Thank you to Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Carry Forward 5K, delivered by CSX, for sponsoring this conversation. As always, all opinions are my own.
5K Training with Kids
After months filled with virtual school, working from home, and all the screen time you can tolerate, our family has been eager to spend time together outdoors. We wanted to get moving as a family. My husband and I are not runners by any means, but we do enjoy working toward races as a goal.
This summer we decided to train as a family for a 5K. We heard about the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Carry Forward 5K, delivered by CSX, and decided that it would be a great option for our military family to participate in while supporting a meaningful work.
We are not a family of natural runners, but we are a family that enjoys time together and working to accomplish a goal. My husband and I have both completed a variety of 5K races over the years and we each have a half marathon or two under our belts, but this is the first 5K for our kids.
As frequent theme park visitors, our boys regularly log 10,000-15,000 steps a day on our visits. We had no doubt the kids can complete the Carry Forward 5K distance without a problem, but since our boys are only 5 & 6 years old currently, we wanted to ease them into completing a 5K with a walking and jogging program.
Our 5K training plan for our kids for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Carry Forward 5K
This year our goal was to have our boys (who are currently only 5 and 6) be able to run half of the distance by race day. I have personally used a couch-to-5K interval running plan several times over the past 20 years, so it made sense to create a similar training plan for our kids.
Since the goal was for our kids to run half of the 5K we worked on weeks 1 through 5 this year, but created the plan to be able to work toward longer running periods with them in the future.
Each work out took approximately 40-45 minutes with the warm-up and cool-down walks. We set the goal of completing the plan 3 times each week and of course added popsicles as the prize for completing each workout.
We started each training session with a 5 minute warm-up walk.
|Week 1||5 minutes||1 minute||5x|
|Week 2||5 minutes||2 minutes||5x|
|Week 3||5 minutes||3 minutes||4x|
|Week 4||5 minutes||4 minutes||4x|
|Week 5||5 minutes||5 minutes||3x|
|Week 6||4 minutes||5 minutes||4x|
|Week 7||3 minutes||5 minutes||4x|
|Week 8||2 minutes||5 minutes||5x|
|Week 9||1 minute||5 minutes||5x|
|Week 10||—||30 minutes||—|
We finished each training session with a 5 minute cool down walk.
Why did we pick the Carry Forward 5K?
As we selected a race for our family 5K, we wanted our kids to gain not only a sense of accomplishment for reaching a goal, but to find a passion in helping others. Training with our kids for the Carry Forward 5K has been a great way to talk with them about serving others from our military community who need help.
When we decided to participate in the Carry Forward 5K we knew we would want to involve our children. As military kids, our boys are knowledgeable about the sacrifices service members make for our country. The physical sacrifices made by many were clear to them when we were stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and frequently encountered wounded warriors learning to use prosthetic limbs. The admiration our boys learned for these resilient men and women runs deep.
One aspect of the Carry Forward 5K that we love is that participants have the opportunity to select who they will be completing the 5K in honor or memory of and then choose a method to represent that selection during the walk.
Participants choose to complete by “carrying for” the 5K in one of three symbolic ways:
- Carry a flag to show support and patriotism.
- Carry a weight to represent the responsibilities veterans’ carry while serving our country.
- Carry another person to symbolize one warrior carrying another in their time of need.
Throughout our family’s participation in the Carry Forward 5K training, and discussing who we will be carrying a flag in honor of during the 5K, the conversations with our kids have been able to shift to battle scars that are not visible and are the result of PTSD.
We will be carrying our flag for friends who are fighting a silent battle against PTSD.
Wounded Warrior Project and PTSD
It is estimated at least 600,000 post-9/11 veterans are part of the population living with PTSD.
“The challenges stemming from PTSD are not only experienced by the warrior,” said Lt. Col. (Ret.) Michael Richardson, Wounded Warrior Project vice president of independence services and mental health. “When a wounded warrior is coping with PTSD, the ones who love them sometimes struggle the most.”
Families of veterans managing PTSD experience secondary trauma symptoms — or indirect trauma — very similar to what warriors face: anxiety, depression, irritation, social isolation, and more.
According to the mental health team at Wounded Warrior Project, sometimes the symptoms a warrior displays in dealing with PTSD becomes so pronounced that they tax the family and create added dysfunction. For instance, injured veterans may lose interest in family activities, leaving family members feeling abandoned. In addition, the risk of physical and emotional violence is higher in families where one of its members has PTSD. So, family members may feel extra stressed trying to meet the veteran’s needs while not having their own needs met. This can cycle into the family’s sense of helplessness and depression.
WWP believes that increased awareness can bring more attention to not only warriors coping with PTSD but also those families who are facing secondary trauma. With education, treatment becomes an option.
5K training for kids with a focus
We decided to have some focus words for our training weeks to help our kids understand who we are honoring in our race participation.
We wrote each of these words on a rock to carry with us that helps us focus on that specific information. For example, when we carry the 600,000 rock on our walk we focus on the fact that it is estimated at least 600,000 post-9/11 veterans are part of the population living with PTSD. We talk about how big that number is and friends we know who are part of that group. On walks where we carry this rock with us, we are reminded that there are many people who still need help that Wounded Warriors Project offers.
Join us in the Carry Forward 5K
There is still time for you to join us! Do you have friends and family who have served in the military? Run for them and those who sacrifice so much to serve our country.
Wounded Warrior Project directs every hour, dollar, and action to helping warriors achieve their highest ambition. Some of the programs offered by WWP focus directly on treating PTSD and creating coping skills for wounded veterans of today’s generation.
It is our turn to stand up for those who have fought for us by supporting the programs they need to live life to the fullest on their own terms.
Won’t you join us in making a difference for these warriors?
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