Are You Ready to Do the Armadillo Dash?

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Inspiring Families To Get Fit Together
by Sarah Kinzbach

When runners in the 7th Annual Armadillo Dash take off from the starting line in March, the Kalaouze family will be setting the pace in fulfilling the mission of the race: raising fitness levels while raising funds for children’s charities. This will be the third Dash for 10-year-old Aleksander Kalaouze and his mother Hege. The Allen Academy fourth grader has been participating in 5K races since the ripe old age of 5, and together with his mother, they run four to five races a year.

To inspire even more families to run together, this year the Armadillo Dash will offer half price entry fees for all participants ages 14 and younger. An entirely volunteer run, non-profit race, the Armadillo Dash is the brainchild of Dr. Jennifer Friedman, a local gynecologist and mother of three who created the race to promote running in the community while supporting local children’s charities. By discounting youth entry fees this year, Friedman is hoping to encourage even more family participation and to promote healthy, active lifestyles from a young age.

Inspiring Families To Get Fit Together
by Sarah Kinzbach

When runners in the 7th Annual Armadillo Dash take off from the starting line in March, the Kalaouze family will be setting the pace in fulfilling the mission of the race: raising fitness levels while raising funds for children’s charities. This will be the third Dash for 10-year-old Aleksander Kalaouze and his mother Hege. The Allen Academy fourth grader has been participating in 5K races since the ripe old age of 5, and together with his mother, they run four to five races a year.

To inspire even more families to run together, this year the Armadillo Dash will offer half price entry fees for all participants ages 14 and younger. An entirely volunteer run, non-profit race, the Armadillo Dash is the brainchild of Dr. Jennifer Friedman, a local gynecologist and mother of three who created the race to promote running in the community while supporting local children’s charities. By discounting youth entry fees this year, Friedman is hoping to encourage even more family participation and to promote healthy, active lifestyles from a young age.

The race, which has grown from 1,100 participants in 2007 to more than 2,800 in 2012, will take place on March 3. Through entry fees and race sponsorships, the Armadillo Dash has raised more than $183,000 for Scotty’s House, Still Creek Ranch, Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley, and the Brazos Valley Food Bank BackPack Program throughout its seven-year history.

“It’s a great, well-organized race and a nice weekend thing to do,” says Hege Kalaouze. The Armadillo Dash has become a sort of family tradition with Hege’s brother, sister-in-law, and mother traveling from Houston to participate in the race.

Combined with the discounted youth entry fee, the Kalaouze’s family running experience is an example a number of local health professionals hope is catching. “It’s great to exercise and important for the whole family,” says Jane Riley, a registered nurse and certified pediatric nurse practitioner. “Running is good for bone growth and strength, as well as heart and weight management.”

More than one in three children are obese or overweight, according to a study conducted by the American Heart Association. “Running can be a very positive impact for a much healthier life,” says Charlie Lima, a certified personal trainer, nutrition expert and owner of BoomFit. “Kids like excitement,” notes Lima, “A 5k is a fantastic starter for a kid and an activity for them to get excited and energetic about [exercise].” When a child has put forth the effort to prepare for the race, crossing the finish line is a huge motivator to continue running and being active.

Lima, who has sponsored the Armadillo Dash since the inaugural year, offers a free training program to prepare for the half marathon and the 5k. The 5k training program is four weeks long and offers a great way for kids to really feel prepared for the race. “You don’t want a kid to be discouraged from a lack of training,” cautions Lima. He suggests parents hold their kids accountable if they have expressed interest in running. “Really encourage them and plan it into their schedule,” comments Lima. “It’ll be hard, but they can’t quit – just like they can’t quit school and tests.”

In addition to preparing for the race, Lima and Riley both strongly encourage families to maintain a balanced diet with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables and avoiding junk food, fast food and soft drinks. Lima recommends eating a snack, such as fruit, nuts or a granola bar, 30 to 60 minutes prior to exercising and a healthy, balanced meal within 30 minutes of completing the exercise to promote recovery.

Riley strongly encourages parents to set the example for their kids. “Kids aren’t going to buy into [the exercise and diet] if their parents aren’t into it and setting the example.”

Friedman starting running for that exact reason. She knew she needed to set a healthy example for her children and decided to start by going for a run. Two years later, she set a goal to complete a half marathon. She now runs one every year.

Similarly, Lima’s wife, who had a baby in August, is preparing for the half-marathon as part of Lima’s training program. “Anyone can get off the couch and do it,” he says.

The Armadillo Dash is a prime example of that, attracting a varied demographic of runners and walkers consisting of families with children, college stfudents, seniors and Olympians.

“It’s something to do together, especially as they get older,” says Hege Kalaouze. She also suggests having fun with it. Aleks concurs. “It helps you and makes you a stronger person,” he says, while offering his own sage advice: “Don’t give up.”

Kid’s Health & Nutrition Tips

To promote a healthy lifestyle, Jane Riley, RN, CPNP, recommends limiting screen-time to two hours a day and exercising at least an hour per day. Additionally, Riley recommends meals consisting of 1⁄2 plate of fruits and vegetables, 1⁄4 plate of protein, and 1⁄4 plate of healthy carbohydrates. Limit soft drinks and drink plenty of water, especially while exercising. 

DO THE DASH

Volunteer

The Armadillo Dash is entirely volunteer run. If you would like to get involved but not participate in the race, there are plenty of opportunities during the pre-race and race-day events from organizing to manning water stops on race day.

Race

Register for the race online at www.armadillodash.com or in person on January 26 at Aggieland Outfitters in the Post Oak Mall from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Train

BoomFit Runner’s Resource is offered FREE on the Armadillo Dash website. Start training for the half-marathon with the weekly workouts provided by trainer Charlie Lima. A four-week training program to prepare for the 5k will be introduced on February 4.