Fun Running Games for Kids

By Rick Morris

During those times your running feels stale and unexciting, just go watch a group of kids at play. They’re running around like maniacs and loving every minute of it. That’s the way it should be. Running is a recreational activity, it isn’t work. Kids love to run but that doesn’t necessarily mean they love to train. Here are some fun running games for kids that will sneak some training into their play time.

Duck, Duck, Goose

You remember this one from your childhood. While this fun kids workout is really considered a game, it is also probably the first interval training workout you ever performed. Have all your kids sit in a big circle. Select one child to be the “picker” to start the game. The picker walks around the outside of the circle and touches each sitting kid on the head and says either “Duck” or “Goose”. The goose then jumps up and chases the picker around the outside of the circle. The goal of the chase is for the goose is to try to tag the picker before the picker can make their way around the circle and sit where the goose had been sitting. If the picker wins the goose becomes the new picker and the game continues. If the goose wins the chase the goose sits back in their original spot and the picker starts again.

This kids running game can be adjusted to different ages and abilities by making bigger or smaller circles with the bigger circles being more appropriate for older kids.

Scavenger Hunt

Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt. You can play this kids running game in park or on the infield of your school track. Get between 10 and 20 buckets or pails. Place the buckets randomly, but in plain view, around the park or infield. Place the buckets upside down over the top of the items in your scavenger hunt. Divide your kids into two even teams. Give each team member a specific item that they need to find. The kids will then run from bucket to bucket trying to find their item. When they find their item they return to the starting point. The first team to find all their items wins.

Candy Chase

Place piles of small candy on one end of a football or soccer field. Divide your kids into two even teams on the other end of the field. At your whistle the kids should run to the candy at the other end, pick up only one piece and run back to the starting point. They should then drop the piece of candy into their team box and run back for another piece. Set a goal time for this running game – say 10 minutes. At the end of the ten minutes, the team with the most pieces of candy is the winner.

Marathon Challenge

Kids are too young to run 26.2 miles in one workout. But a fun way to challenge your kids and improve their endurance is to have a marathon challenge. The object of this running game is for the kids to run a full marathon over a period of time. Don’t give each kid a specific number of miles they need to run on a daily basis. Let the child determine their own progress. Keep a mileage log for each kid. When they reach their 26.2 mile challenge the kid gets a reward such as a marathon challenge t-shirt. Use your imagination on the rewards and always keep it fun and rewarding. One good way to keep your marathon challengers motivated is to have levels similar to martial arts. For example they may get a white belt at the 6 mile level, a yellow belt at the 13 mile level, a red belt at the 20 mile level and a black belt when they complete their challenge.

Bean Bag Relay

Here is a fun kids running workout that will also teach them to run efficiently. Divide your kids into relay teams of 4 each. Place one kid from each team at the relay transition points on the track. The first athlete to start places a bean bag on their head and runs to the first relay transition zone. If the bag falls off their head they must stop where it falls of and replace it on their head before continuing. At the transition zone each runner places the bag on their team mates head and that running continues on. The first team to complete the 4 x 100 meter relay wins.