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Shelly Fisher gave Marathon Kids at Home a try, as a homeschool P.E. curriculum bonus for her 10-year-old son. Read about their experience, getting active together on the sidewalks of their neighborhood!

Marathon Kids at Home family as homeschool curriculum The author with her son and their homeschool mascot, Lucy.

When our Marathon Kids at Home package arrived, I was a little surprised that confetti didn’t shoot out of our mailbox. My son and I both were more than a little excited about the addition to our homeschool schedule.

My ten-year-old already participates in a P.E. co-op once a week and plays baseball for our local youth league, but this was something different entirely!   The Marathon Kids program would serve as an organized fitness break during our school day and offer us something more than just running and playing in our backyard with our puppy and school mascot, Lucy.

The unassuming Marathon Kids at Home bag yielded goal charts, a program guide and drum roll… PRIZES. And not just any prizes, these prizes were from NIKE!

Marathon Kids at Home incentives for homeschool P.E. run clubs Nike incentives included in the Marathon Kids at Home kit.

I eyed the 26.2 marathon shirts and said, “Hey! We can wear these today for our kick-off!” Seconds later, his nose buried in the guide and eyebrows peeking over the top at me, my son said, “No, Mom. We have to earn those. You have to run your first marathon, which is 26.2 miles.” Armed with this new knowledge and a sudden jolt of whopping competitive spirit, I said, “Hey, let me see that!”

A quick perusal of the guide summed up everything we needed to get started: mileage logs, warm-ups, cool-downs, running tips, session cards, games, certificates and so much more!

First Step of Our First Marathon

We quickly mapped out our neighborhood. The route was super familiar for both of us, but now it had a purpose, a goal, a mission. We saw each cul-de-sac as one semi-circle closer to our goal and our super cool 26.2 t-shirts.

It seemed only fitting that our kick-off occurred on the same sidewalk where my son pulled his wagon and rode his fire engine, tricycle, motorized tractor, bike, skates, and scooter. (I totally plan to have him pop the curb in his first car so that I can get a picture of his first real wheels on the stretch of concrete outside our home.) Armed with our walking (me) and running (him) shoes, we took the very first step of our first marathon. It was a beautiful day and the sun shone through the trees to dapple the sidewalk ahead of us. My son waved at me from the cross streets as he happily jogged our neighborhood.

Then, life happened…

In addition to being a homeschool mom and full-time teacher, I teach at our son’s co-op and I am a real estate agent. I was frustrated to find that when our full schedule pushed in on us, our Marathon Kids program was the first item to drop off our list. I began evaluating what we as family valued and invested our time in on a daily basis.

Like all moms and dads, I am constantly seeking balance for our family, but I have recently learned that balance doesn’t mean that all things get equal time and attention. It means that the important things get more time and somehow that resolves all the little stuff. God has blessed our family greatly in so many ways and I am learning to find joy in the crazy unplanned days as well as the rare “hey-today-happened-just-like-I-planned” day. And guess what? Because we value our health and fun times together, Marathon Kids found its way back into our lives!

Life is a Marathon

Please forgive the cliché, but life is not a sprint, it truly is a marathon. Marathon Kids came into my life just as I was learning this within my family! If we miss a day of running, it’s okay. Our running shoes are still by the door and they’ll be there tomorrow and the next day and the next day. It’s not a “do it perfectly, or forget it” kind of program, and neither is life for that matter.

Your health and your family’s health are a lifelong pursuit and Marathon Kids is just the program to get you moving and KEEP you moving.

And… did I mention there are prizes from NIKE?!

Thank you, Marathon Kids, for bringing balance and perspective to our lives and a whole new way to view our neighborhood sidewalks!

Want to sign your family up to try Marathon Kids at Home? Head over here!

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It is Wednesday night in West Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, which means you can find Marathon Kids Coach Margaret Rivera lacing up her shoes and hitting the track.

Alongside her is a group of 14 kids ranging in age from three to 12 years old, and just as many parents and adult volunteers, who all make up the Venados Running Club.

Like every Wednesday night for the past eight months, this entirely community-based club is getting ready to log their one-mile loop run.

For the Venados runners, this single mile is just one of many that they will complete this week. However, this mile is their favorite because they get to do it together.

Marathon Kids Coach Margaret Rivera

Every week Coach Rivera is joined by her son, Enrique Jr., the youngest of the Venados members, who is just as active as his mom.

Although now a 15-time marathon finisher, three-time Ironman finisher, and run club captain, Coach Rivera will admit she didn’t start off as running’s biggest fan.

At age 14, she set a goal for herself: complete a triathlon. She was already a swimmer, so how hard could it be to add biking and running? It turns out that after getting through the swim and bike portions of the competition, the final 2k run felt like an impossible task.

Rather than feel defeated, Coach Rivera resolved to train for every part of the race. As she began to run more, she discovered a new passion. The run became her favorite part of the sport of triathlon.

Coach Rivera had successfully turned a challenge into an opportunity, and she became a runner for life.

It is no surprise, then, that she passed that same passion on to her son. As the child of two passionate runners, Enrique Jr. didn’t want to sit and watch his mom run – he wanted to do it WITH her!

Marathon Kids At Home

Coach Rivera started looking for a kid-friendly way to get her family running together. When she came across the Marathon Kids At Home program, Coach Rivera knew that she had found the right fit. It was flexible and easy to incorporate into her family’s schedule.

Plus, with the help of Marathon Kids’ tools (family’s guide resource, run club agendas, mileage logs, and Nike rewards), she realized that other families in her community could easily implement and benefit from this program too.

With the goal to inspire her entire neighborhood to get moving, Coach Rivera turned to Marathon Kids – this time to apply for grant funding to start a community run club.

She wrote:

“I have seen the impact running has had on my son, and I am a runner. I believe this grant would impact the school and community greatly as it will get kids involved in a sport that they may not have been involved in otherwise. I truly believe running will help the students start a healthy lifestyle at a very young age and develop their confidence and a positive body image.”

Coach Rivera was clearly going to be a dedicated and dependable coach, and with the support of Marathon Kids and her neighbors, the Venados Running Club was born.

Venados Running Club

In its first year, the club has already seen great success. Coach Rivera loves seeing the positive impact that it is making on her young runners, including increased confidence, determination, teamwork, and pride in accomplishment.

“Marathon Kids has been key in building a team that supports each other, as it has given us goals and milestones to work towards and celebrate,” Rivera shared.

While the runners spend much of the week earning miles outside of the club, their weekly looped run is an opportunity for everyone to wear their Marathon Kids t-shirts and feel like a team as they run together. After practice, they color in their mileage logs and celebrate what they accomplished that week.

Coach Rivera and her team of volunteer coaches have not only instilled in their Venados kids a love of physical activity, but have rallied a community around the lifelong health and happiness of its youngest neighbors – and that is something to cheer about.

By Courtney Nikolay and Benjamin Schwertner