Ask Coach Mick

About the First Day of a New Running Program

Photo of Coach Mick and Daughter Sarah by Carol Goodrow at the USATF Junior Olympic Track and Field Meet in Providence, RI

Thanks again Mick,

From your last response, I can see a 'fun' running training program beginning in September with plans for intramural competition in November and December beginning to take place.

On to the next set of questions!

Day 1: There I am and there they are...50 - 100 males and females, 6th, 7th and 8th graders. I'm looking at them. They're looking at me and listening to me (we can hope) and....

Question #1: What do I say?

Question #2: What do I do?

Question #3: What do WE do, where, and for how long?

Question #4: Are we having fun yet?

Thanks, Julie Florida

Dear Julie,

First talk to the kids. Tell them about the program and kinds of competitions you would like to have late in the fall. Tell them that the program will be fun and that working toward a goal will be a valuable experience. Let them know that training with their teammates is important and that running with their friends is really fun and it helps their fitness. Practicing is not racing. Practicing is training. You want to build a fun and successful team and they can help you do it.

As to what to do the first day; have them run 5 minutes really easy. Then take some time to stretch as a group. You may want to have them count to 20 together as they stretch one leg or one side and then count down from 20 as they stretch the other leg. Do a few stretches for different body parts.

Next you can do some running. You may want to run just one more mile the first day. Perhaps some of the kids can run 2. Eventually you will be able to divide them into training groups. This will be pretty easy as you get to know the kids.

They can wrap up the day with doing some 100m striders - not sprints- at 70% effort. (I will explain striders soon, if you are not familiar with them.)

They can also finish the day with some crunches. Direct them in doing crunches. Make sure they are using their abs, not their arms to lift their bodies. Have them strive for 3 sets of 10 the first day. Finally they can do some pushups. Let them do as many as they can up to 20 for a start.

Finish the day up with lots of stretching.

Yes, we are having fun! We're always having fun. Fun is the most important thing. Working towards a goal is fun and rewarding. There always have to be goals to work towards, both short and long term.

Encourage the kids to keep a notebook/journal/log on their training and their goals.

Plan practices for 2-3 times per week and don't have them run more than 2 or 3 miles at each practice (with rest periods).

Be very gentle and careful with beginners. You can easily scare them away. Then when they really like it, you must hold the reigns. They will want to run to much!!!! Believe it.

Best wishes, Coach Mick