Our Coaches' Running Philosophy for Younger Atheletes

Post date: Aug 4, 2014 6:20:57 PM

Here are guidelines I try to follow when considering the team.

1. Safety comes first! We've got to keep everyone close enough together so we always know where every runner is. We can have faster runners loop around if they get ahead. We need to consider the temperature, training surface/location, time of day (dark comes early these days!) and any injury/pain when we work with our runners.

2. Fun is a very close second priority. Running must be fun. Our athletes have chosen to run because they like it. This isn't normal. They will choose to work hard at the level they're comfortable with. We must encourage and respect their choices. Older kids understand "delayed gratification" (if I work hard today I'll be faster tomorrow) better than younger kids. If we push too hard and take the fun out of running they won't continue in the sport. Making running fun is the best way to encourage the ongoing participation that leads to long term gains.

3. Take a long term view. I'd rather have a kid run be a lifelong runner than win a JO championship and drop from the sport. I'd rather have a kid advance more slowly than we might be able to push them than to feel pressured to run longer/faster than they're comfortable with. If we're perfect coaches we'll train our athletes to peak when their genetic potential is at its peak for the race distance they're most suited for. This may not occur during the time we're coaching them.

4. Understand issues of growth. Our athletes' bodies are changing rapidly. Rapid growth is a sensitive time for injury and we often see injuries and decreased performance during rapid growth. In the long term growth usually leads to improved performance but we need to be careful in the months around major growth spurts.

-- Kevin Sawchuk