Children 12 and under and beginners (all ages)
Although we encourage children of all ages to participate in our running events we do not recommend long formal repetitive distance workouts for children 12 and under. It is important to start with light, easy, fun practices. If your child is not accustomed to running start walking. Progress slowly as their conditioning improves and always keep it fun. As their walking becomes easier insert short jogs of 10 to 50 yards during the walks. Most kids quit running because first the parents and then the coaches work them too hard. At this stage it is about participation not competition.
Start walking at least 4-5 days a weeks until you can comfortably handle a total of about 15 miles a week. Approx. 1 to 3 months depending on your conditioning. Once you get to 2 miles per day you can safely walk our relay.
Start inserting short 10 to 50 yard intervals of jogging during the walk. 3-4 intervals every mile. (an interval in this case would be 10 to 50 yards). Total distance should stay at about 15 miles a week.
Increase the jogging distance and number of intervals and decrease the walking until you can jog the entire 3 miles. (A 5K is 3.1 miles). Approx.1-3 months depending on your conditioning. Once you get to 2 miles of non-stop jogging per day you can safely jog our relay.
Once you can easily jog 3 miles a day, everyday for 2 weeks you can either start increasing your total weekly distance but never more than 10% per week. Ex. If running 15 /wk, 10% is 1.5 mile. So the total distance would be (15 + 1.5) 16.5 miles. Do not run over 20 miles per week unless you have an experienced youth coach.
The next level:
Over 13 and experienced athletes (above workouts are too easy for you).
At this point you should subscribe to some very basic running points. Train don’t strain. Getting tired is ok but staying tired for more than one or two days is not. You have to recover from each workout or you will start going downhill risking injury and illness.
Get plenty of sleep. Everyone is different but you should get enough sleep. You want to go to school, work, run each day without feeling dragged out. Walking around, watching TV, reading a book does not count. Only sleep allows you to recover properly!
Don’t increase distance and speed in the same workout. Unless you have a coach and know your body well your asking for injuries.
One to two days active rest (easy jogging) for every mile raced. Example: After a 5K race do easy workouts for 3 to 6 days depending on your age, experience and conditioning, a 10K race take it easy for 6 to12 days.
Transition your running. Take it easy when you change your workouts or races. Have a transition period to work up to the new workout (s) or longer races.
Use the “Hard / Easy” concept i.e. a hard workout followed by one or two easy days.
For more thorough and advanced workouts go to: FreeSpiritsTrack.org and click on “Workouts” or call 822-6634 for help.
We recommend parents closely monitor their child’s workouts and keep their doctors informed as to their children’s level of activity. Do not run a child if he or she tells you they are tired, sore or show signs of exhaustion. In the hot Texas weather, make sure water is available at all times. Do not let your child run alone. Parent involvement is a great bonding experience for the entire family.