Monday, September 20, 2010

The Trail Running Project

My wife and I really want our kids to be healthy, so we try to give them a balanced diet, limit their screen time (TV, DS, Wii, etc.), and push them outdoors as much as possible. Sometimes they just don't want to go. Yesterday, after my daughter's soccer game, I took my son for a run. He grumbled and delayed, but finally we were off. Almost immediately, he got a cramp and wanted to walk. We walked for a while and I asked him if he wanted to go home or continue on. I sensed he was wavering, so I told him that we were headed for Maple Grove, a small forest preserve near our house, where there is a really nice trail, probably about a mile and a half or so. He agreed to continue on.

As soon as we hit the trails, he visibly relaxed. I could tell he was starting to enjoy himself. Even though the running wasn't easy, he kept it up and we talked about trail running vs. road running. I urged him to keep an easy, even pace and that reassured him that he could finish the loop. Pretty soon he was searching out logs to jump on or over. As we headed out of the woods and back onto the sidewalks, he planned on running home. I let him know that we would be stopping well before home in order to cool off.

When we finally stopped, it was almost 38 minutes total, including the brief walk at the beginning, and almost 3 3/4 miles. He appeared proud of himself and agreed that the trail run was much more enjoyable than running around the block.

We talked about it some more, planned on running some more trails and...The Trail Running Project was born. Our plan is to run all the trails in the Du Page County Forest Preserve system, inviting the rest of the family as they are available. This blog will chronicle our attempts to complete this plan. We won't limit ourselves to just the Du Page collection of parks, but it's a nice jumping off point for us.

Maple Grove is a small preserve located on the near southwest side of Downers Grove, IL. It is about a mile or so away from our house, so is an easy run to get to this modest trail. Though not long in distance, this trail offers a variety of terrains, running surfaces and is densely wooded, so it's a good respite from the more urban surroundings. Attached to the prewerve is Downers Grove's Gilbert Park, which has a jungle gym, picnic shelter, and a baseball/softball field. Other baseball/softball fields can be found at the south end of the preserve. Two parking lots are more than ample for the amount of traffic this preserve sees.


  1. What a great family project! Love the new blog!

  2. So awesome. I hope to share my love for running (or just challenging myself) with my kids one day. It sounds like over and above the fitness that your son will get from these trail runs…you have some father son time carved out…and he’s none-the-wiser.

  3. great philosophy ... just don't make them learn piano, latin, or alchemy - they cancelled those triathlons about 400 years ago!

  4. Great idea! Looking forward to reading about your adventures on the trails.

  5. So awesome!!! I love this!! How old is your son? My LB is 5...I can't wait for him to get a bit bigger so we can do some 5k's. How young do you think is too young?

  6. My son is 9, but I also do some running with my 3 year old, obviously much less. From what I've read, it's kind of up to each child, but most physicians don't recommend kids under 10-12 running more than a mile consistently. I'm not sure if I agree with that, because if you ever eatch kids play at recess, I can guarantee you they are running a lot more than a mile! I just let them both let me know how far/fast/often they want to go. My 7 year old daughter doesn't really like to run, but now is interested with this trails project. Have a great weekend!

  7. Great project Kovas! I'm trying to get my nine yr. old daughter to run a little. Maybe your trail project will get her interested. My LB who just turned eight, signed up for a 1 mile fun run this Sunday. Can't wait!

  8. This is awesome! Why Haven't I seen this before. Keep it going. :) If you ever come to Oregon, we have some great trails! amazing! Way to get your kids off the couch and outside to be active. My 5 years old recently started asking to run with me. She's a natural..she amazes me really. I hope she keeps loving it and goes with it someday but I'm not going to push or let her know how much I really hope she's a runner because then she will do the opposite...I just know it. :) Well, I just have to keep my excitement to a minimum and let her take the lead.

  9. I had seen the sidebar about the trail running project, but thought it was more just your reviews of trails in the area. This is really cool, though. My 16 year old will only run "with" me to see how much he can outrun me by, but my 7 year old is turning into a trail runner. He doesn't have much interest in races, but he loves to be out running in the woods. I just have to take a breath and know that our "running" is going to consist of a lot of looking around, climbing, and exploring...and that's just fine.


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