Distance Running with Kids Part 2

Running with kids



Distance Running with Kids Part 2

Movement concepts, proper nutrition and hydration, proper footwear, sun safety, and safe running routes.

Form. Eliminate arm movement across the midline and upper body twisting to teach appropriate mining form (Greene & Pate, 2004). Focus on looseness, foot-rolling, and erectness (Pangrazi & Beighle, 2013). To boost speed, emphasize not overstriding and step cadence.


Movement Concepts

Running movement concepts for children include (1) running at varying paces, levels, paths, and directions; (2) landing heavy or light; (3) manning smoothly (i.e.,  efficiently) or jerky (ie., inefficiently); (4) influencing leg turnover rate by arm carriage rate (i.e., pump the arms and the legs will follow); and (5) influencing stride length by the amount of force during the push-off phase (Gallahue & Donnelly, 2007).


Food and water

Running programs should emphasize nutrition and hydration.
Water is recommended before and during exercise, and electrolyte (sports) drinks after 30 minutes. Clark (2003) advised training with eight ounces of liquids every 15–20 minutes. Not waiting until thirsty. The best hydration is clear or light-colored urine (Noakes, 2003). Recovery drinks with a four-to-one carbohydrate-to-protein ratio should be consumed 15 minutes after the workout (Clark). Finally, explain the relationship between nutrition and exercise. Promote a variety of whole or lightly processed foods from the basic food groups. By the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (2010) dietary guidelines for Americans.


Proper Footwear

Teach pupils how to choose running shoes. Runner’s World (2012) recommends leaving a thumb’s width between the big toe and the shoe to avoid blisters. Running shoes fit different foot types and biomechanical strike patterns.
Flat (low) arches need motion-control shoes, medium arches need neutral-cushioned shoes, and high arches need cushioned shoes (Runner’s World). Wet Tests (http://www.runnersworld.com/shoeadvisor) can determine the best shoe. Running shoe prescriptions are best from local running specialty stores.

Sun Safety

Address sun protection and weather-appropriate attire. Running requires dressing lightly to avoid overheating as the core body temperature rises (Noakes, 2003).
Noncotton synthetic clothing helps cool the body and prevent blisters and abrasions.
Noncotton synthetic socks avoid blisters. All exposed skin should be protected with SPF 15 or higher sunscreen. Avoid running in midday and wear sunglasses and a hat (No-akes).
If extreme heat, cold, or lightning makes outdoor exercise unsafe, try indoor circuit training or cardio.

Safe Running Routes

Mark running routes with cones, lime, paint, chalk, arrows, or other means. Avoid marking routes the night before in case of rain, wind, or vandals.


Will It Cause Mental “Burnout”?

Mental “buyout” is the last argument against distance running for elementary-aged children (Brenner, 2007).
The AAPCSM (1990) cited two psychological dangers of distance racing for children: mental exhaustion (most child athletes leave by 13) and limited social ties owing to long-distance running.
Making distance running fun with games and activities that encourage social interaction can lessen these hazards.
Exercises should be fun, developmental, and varied (see Table 1).
Overweight or sedentary youngsters may need to gradually increase their exercise time and frequency to attain the required 60 minutes per day.

Avoid boredom by changing training sessions daily.

Different running routes or activities (like those listed earlier in this article) might add variety.
Running as part of play and games allows for lateral movements that engage more of the body and reduces the straight-path motions of distance running, according to Bloom (2007).
Brenner (2007) advised older youngsters in scholastic or club sports teams (e.g., cross-country running or track) to take at least one or two days off each week from all competitive athletics and two to three months off from a specific sport.
For inspiration, students race by the “Wall of Fame,” which tracks class running achievement.

A year and play on one squad per season for mental and physical rehabilitation. John, a 10-year-old child, should attend track club practices five days a week and not try out for the baseball team during the same season. Additionally, John should not run with the track club in the spring and summer and then on a cross-country team in the fall and winter, which would total more than nine months of distance running. He may join a winter sports team to stay active, improve his cardiovascular fitness, and recuperate from distance running.

Motivation prevents mental exhaustion. Greene and Pate (2004) offered some tips for motivating and retaining young distance runners in Training Young Distance Runners. First, practitioners must recognize that motivation levels vary within a group and that motivation must be cultivated. Musically,


Running Games

Variety and running games may encourage kids to engage for enjoyment and socialization. Competitive success may demotivate children. Connecting effort to self-improvement boosts motivation. Inspiring commitment, hard work, self-improvement, and applauding effort can boost intrinsic motivation.

When combined with intrinsic incentives (self-satisfaction, improvement), extrinsic rewards (trophies, prizes) can remind children of the joy of achievement.

A medal for finishing a race, a T-shirt for complete summer training, or a ribbon for running a new personal record are examples of prizes. Finally, defining short- and long-term goals with each child can help them focus their mind and body. Childhood motivation, self-esteem, and self-worth depend on practitioners providing realistic training sessions and program goals.

Process goals include running an even pace throughout a session, whereas outcome goals include reaching level 17 on the PACER test. Establishing ambitious but achievable goals can boost confidence and happiness. The practitioner may assist the youngster to overcome disappointment, examine what went wrong, and prepare for future success by changing the aim or training plan.

Running systems that measure daily distance or steps can assist create long-term objectives (e.g., running one mile a day for several weeks to finish a marathon) and motivating. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (2006) online log (www.presidentschallenge.org) lets kids document their physical activity for the President’s Challenge.


Tips for Practitioners

* Track laps around a track, steps with a pedometer, or mileage in a session with age-appropriate journaling. Older kids can keep a reflective journal to communicate their running feelings and track injuries. These diaries can help set intermediate and long-term goals.

Establish an extracurricular running group before or after school.

Practitioners should consider the following while creating elementary-age training sessions:

Avoid “cookie cutter” programs that force all kids to do the same workout.

* Adjust volume (distance), intensity (speed or effort), and frequency to gradually increase running workloads (number of days a week; Greene & Pate, 2004).
Youngsters new to jogging should start with modest volume, low intensity, and two days per week.

* Never increase training volume by more than 10% week-to-week (Brenner, 2007; Daniels, 2005). Time or distance can measure this.

Individualize training by time, not distance, so fitter kids run farther and less fit kids run less. Everyone finishes at once.

Hill, fartlek, whistle, progression, pace, and other workouts.

Change workout intensity. Avoid back-to-back strenuous workouts.

* Run on tracks, trails, fields, bike routes, etc., but avoid hard surfaces.

* Run events should be age-appropriate for students. The Road Runners Club of America (2012) advises “dash” events starting at 50 meters for five-year-olds and “fun run” events starting at a one-half mile for older children, allowing them to run and stroll at their own pace.


A Practitioner’s Perspective: The Mighty Milers

NYRR offers schools and community centers the Mighty Milers incentive-based running program (2012a).
Students earn medals for each full marathon up to four times (26.2 miles to 104.3 kilometers). Prekindergarten, kindergarten, and adapted physical education students can earn 13.1-mile half marathon medals. Mighty Milers is free for schools with at least 50% free and reduced lunches. The second author, who was new to distance running, used the NYRR Mighty Milers program to start a running program for her prekindergarten to second-grade physical education students.

Running regularly could harm young students’ knees and ankles. NYRR resources alleviated overtraining injury concerns. NYRR offers a monthly newsletter, coaching tools, and a “loopy laps” link with age-appropriate games for young runners. Videos assist practitioners teach running form to students through fun activities. Elementary-aged runners can adapt to several of the website’s activities. Mighty Milers regional coordinators assist with running chib logistics.

Running club members must run twice a week for 15 minutes. Jogging for 15 minutes helps kids reach the prescribed 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise (NASPE, 2004b). The program encourages children to listen to their bodies and walk and drink as needed.

Running would bore students.

The running would begin with an all-school cheer rally that ended with everyone yelling, “I love running!” 

This excitement didn’t fade, despite concerns. New students joined the group weekly till the conclusion of the year.  Many kids arrived 30 minutes early to start running.

Students learned intensity levels and how to pace themselves during a long run in the program.
Veteran runners occasionally urged rookie runners to start running at a medium speed to avoid fatigue. Students check their effort by feeling their heartbeat. Prekindergarteners grasped the relationship between heart rate and manning speed. Students exclaimed, “My heart is beeping!” when their hearts beat quicker.
Older students comprehend running’s benefits. “I run with Mighty Milers because I want big muscles, and it helps my heart,” said a second-grade boy, who ran almost every morning with the Mighty Milers club. “I like to run with my bro,” he said, alluding to a clubmate he wanted to run with. Students were delighted to run with the club and teachers in the morning.
Having a core group of students and great music were two key in- ingredients of the program. Alumni recruited friends and monitored lap monitoring in the chub. Students collected Popsicle sticks after each lap to track their laps. Alumni racers respectfully reminded fresher runners to walk off the track when they were fatigued and not linger in the inner lane.
Several Mighty Milers members calculated how many laps they needed to meet their next benchmark. Mighty Miler’s mileage benchmarks helped a first-grade teacher teach math. Students want to start the program early next year so they can accomplish 104.8 miles. A second-grader said, “I like running and receiving prizes.”Running and its incentives motivated her. Instead of running, the club played a track game on Thursdays. Many students glanced.


Distance mining is safe for elementary school kids. Will-Weber (2001) defined an excellent distance-running coach as “someone who helps you progress but leaves something “in the bank,” and also instills a love of the sport as you move on… plus… someone who teaches you something about life in the process” (p. 46). Running must be fun and safe to avoid mental burnout. Distance running can assist physical educators to satisfy national requirements for motor skill competency, understanding of movement principles, regular physical exercise, health-enhancing fitness, and displaying responsible fitness behavior and valuing physical activity (NASPE, 2004a). Well-organized elementary distance-running activities may also enhance adolescent running and lifetime physical activity.


Seth Jenny & Tess Armstrong (2013) Distance Running and the Elementary-age Child, Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 84:3, 17-25, DOI: 10.1080/07303084.2013.763709




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