Thank you for your commitment to get kids interested in running as part of a healthy lifestyle.

As a youth coach, you are responsible for creating a safe and nurturing environment for all youth.  The Lakeland Runners Club’s Safe and Positive Sport Environment Policy requires that all LRC coaches complete Abuse Awareness training annually, agree to be a mandatory reporter for reasonable suspicion of sexual misconduct, and have no one-on-one contact with a minor except in specific situations called out in the policy. 

As part of our membership and insurance coverage through the Road Runners Club of America, the LRC is required to register and obtain waivers from all participants in club activities.   This information, along with check in data, gives the club vital information to help us pursue grants and other funding to support and grow the youth running program. 

Safe Sport Training for Youth Coaches - 20m 48s

We realize it might seem easier to do it on a phone, but it just won’t work, because it won’t send the completion certificate, and you’ll have to take it again. If needed, disable pop-up blockers for the online tool called BrainShark.

We recommend that you use the Google Chrome browser to view the training.

This free training program was designed by the Road Runners Club of America. Please wait for the training slide show to finish loading before proceeding.

RRCA Training for Youth Coaches - 59m 40s

The RRCA provides its Level II youth coaching module free to volunteer coaches of club youth programs.   

Resources & Ideas for Running Games

Warm Up

These exercises can help young athletes with strength and coordination.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Windmills
  • Forward Bends (bend at hips vs waist)
  • Toe hops in place (foot is in plantar flexion/pointed)
  • March in place (foot is in dorsiflexed not pointed down)
  • Deep squats (target position = heels on ground, hamstrings touching calves)

For stronger/older athletes

  • Squat Thrusts (burpee without pushup)
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Plank variations
  • Skipping

P3R in Pittsburg offers Kids of STEEL and has a library of workouts available on their website. 

The New York Road Runners offers 1100 fun games and activities for all ages and abilities that align with SHAPE America National Standards.

FUNdamentals of Youth Running from the RRCA

The Lakeland Runners Club follows these ten developmental guidelines to guide training and racing outlined in the book Training for Young Distance Runners by Larry Greene, PhD and Russ Pate, PhD, published by Human Kinetics.


Make Running Fun

First and foremost, running should be fun. Do not use running as a punishment. Encourage children to participate and try their best.


Emphasize Good Form

Teach youth good form early and help eliminate bad habits such as excessive arm movement, twisting of the upper body, or over striding.


Focus on Participation

In elementary school, running should be about participation and developing a healthy lifestyle, not about being the fastest kid in the school or program. Save competition for middle and high school aged students.


Respect individual Differences

Avoid a one-size-fits-all running program. Accommodate for differences in abilities within the group. Children mature both physically and emotionally at different rates, and this will factor into their ability to participate in running.  Ensure physically challenge youth can participate.


Limit Systematic Training Before Puberty

Before puberty children are rapidly growing and changing. Excessive, systematic training may interfere with normal growth and cause injury in a child.

  • Between the ages of 3 and 9, encourage regular exercise, including organized running as outlined in the Kids Run the Nation Program.
  • Around the age of 8 to 12, children may enjoy participation in a more organized running program that has a more systematic training environment that lasts 2-to 3-months.
  • Around the age of 12 for girls, and 14 for boys, key developmental changes will enable students to increase training distance and duration leading to participation in a systematic and competitive training environment.

Increase Running Workload Gradually

Running workload includes volume (distance), intensity (speed or effort), and frequency (number of days a week). Just like with adults’ running training, children should start a running program with a low-volume, low-intensity plan and limit frequency to a couple of days per week. Workload should increase over the duration of the program, but should remain appropriate for the individual runner.


Participate in Age-Appropriate Events

Running in a kid’s fun run or youth track event can be a great experience for kids.

  1. For children 5 and under focus on “dash” events that range from a few yards to 400 meters.
  2. For children 5 and over, kids fun runs that are a ½ to 1 mile long may be considered, but allow for a combination of running and walking.
  3. Children ages 12 and over may want to participate in a 5K run.
  4. Children ages 15 and older may want to participate in a 10K to half marathon event.
  5. Children 18 and older may want to participate in a marathon or further distance.

These are general guidelines and the distance a child can physically and emotionally tolerate will depend on the individual, however, longer distances (10K and over) should wait until after puberty.