September 15, 2015

Speed work for kids

My second cross country practice was yesterday right after school, so I got stuff ready for that. I made up a plan for speed work--I wrote the names of four different animals on index cards (turtle, pig, horse, and cheetah) and then taped them to sticks to tuck into some orange cones. I figured we could place the cones around the path for the kids to run, and use those as cues to walk, jog, run, and sprint.

I also bought some rubber bands to keep track of laps. Since we have so many kids on the team (28!), it would be impossible for us to keep track of their laps. Some kids are much faster than others, and could do twice as many laps.

Anyway, I figured that each lap around, they could put one rubber band on their wrist. Renee had measured out 1/4 mile path for them to run, so each rubber band was equivalent to 1/4 mile. Then, at the end, we could just count their rubber bands, multiply by 1/4 mile, and give them their total distance run.

We started by doing a dynamic warm-up (light jogging alternated with dynamic stretches). Then, we started the animal speed work. I told the kids they could do as many or as few laps as they wanted for 15-20 minutes, but gave them the goal to get in at least three.

I brought a bag of candy, and said anyone that gets in at least three laps can have a piece. That worked well to keep them motivated ;) The kids really liked the rubber band idea, and wanted to collect as many as they could, so all of the kids did at least three, but most of the kids did more. It worked out really well!

We let them take a water break for a few minutes afterward, and then we set up to play a game. We organized them into four teams of seven, and had them do a relay race. I gave the first person from each team a stick to carry and hand off to their teammate, and the first team to have everyone finish was the winner.

We did three rounds of that, and then it was time to go home! It went by really quickly. I collected the rubber bands and gave each of the kids a small slip of paper with their total distance written on it, so their parents could log it on their mileage chart at home. Most of the kids got in 1.5-2 miles, which was great. The kids seemed like they had a really good time, so I'd say it was a successful practice. :)

Watching the kids practice really makes me want to run! I am going to see the orthopedist tomorrow, so I'll see what he says about getting back into it, and hopefully come up with a plan. Crossing my fingers for good news!

After a very busy weekend, I still managed to get in a lot of activity yesterday. In the morning, I decided to go for a long walk to help prepare to walk the half-marathon next month. I ended up walking over five miles alone, and then planned to walk three more with Joey later.

Yesterday was Jerry's birthday, so I wanted to spend some time with him. He was sleeping while I was out walking, but when he got up, I asked if he would want to ride bikes to Subway for lunch. It was really nice outside! I estimated that Subway was probably about five and a half miles away, so it would be a good place to ride to.

We headed out on our bikes, and I was in front of Jerry. The wind was so strong! I almost suggested turning around and going back home, but kept reminding myself it was "only" about five miles there. I was blocking the wind for Jerry, so he didn't understand why it was so tough. When we got to Subway, I was exhausted and my heart was racing.

I didn't know Jerry even took this picture until he showed me at Subway. Clearly, I have awesome posture while I'm on my bike ;)

I got my usual veggie sub, and was totally disappointed when they said they don't have guacamole anymore! I love guacamole on my subs. If I had known ahead of time, I may have gotten something else, but my veggie sub was really good anyway. After we finished eating, we started the ride back home.

It was MUCH easier with a tail wind. On the way TO Subway, our average speed was 12.1 mph; but on the way home, it was 14.9 mph--big difference! The effort level on the way there was harder than on the way home.


  1. I can't find an article on the speedwork I did when I was on a team. We called it a totem run - I thought. The whole team runs at a slow/steady speed. Then the last person runs super fast to pass the team and become the first person. That person, now first, slows back down, and the last person runs fast to become first. We'd do it with a totem of like 5 people (not 28) but it was really hard and effective.

    1. The team runs in a line so nobody can go faster than the person who just sprinted, except the person currently sprinting.

    2. Yes! That's a great speed workout. I call it a leap frog run, but it's what you described. We'd have to split into several smaller groups, but we'll be doing it next week :)

    3. As an athlete I hated those but as a couch potato I miss them. They were really motivational.

  2. That is such an awesome idea to keep the kids motivated. So clever. I don't know how you guys thought of it, but I think it would actually be motivational for adults too. Such a really good idea you guys came up with to get the kids to run without realizing they are "running."

    The totem run is a great idea too. It's used in cycling as well similarly and they call it a peloton with the back person coming up to "lead" the group and pulling until they can't anymore. Birds actually do it too. Take a look next time you see those Canadian Geese over head. That's exactly how they fly. I know you hate birds, but these are good birds....not those dive bombing idiots that attack you when you run Katie.

  3. You have such great ideas, can you come to CA and coach my son's track team? LOL Instead of using rubber bands, have you thought of having them wear a tag? Our school has a walk-a-thon and the kids receive prizes for the most laps and we are able to count their laps by punching a hole on their paper tag. We have them wear a lanyard with card stock paper and every time they make a lap, we use a hole puncher and punch their card. This way, we have something to count, and they have a souvenir. Plus, they can use it to see their improvements too. Keep up the good work Coach! :) - Tiffany

  4. The rubber band idea is genius!

  5. I work in youth development and I really appreciate your detailed explanation of your activities for cross country! I am keeping a list to share with my staff for when our programs start next week. Thanks!

  6. I am most impressed with you coaching! Go you guys!

  7. Looks like that coaching is right up your alley! I missed how you got injured :(

  8. I think it's really great to be involved with coaching; and what a great idea to use the animals! However, I have to say that I would be an unhappy parent. I am so sick of people feeling the need to "bribe" kids with candy. Those kids are there because they want to be there; and they will feel a sense of accomplishment from their running and the encouragement that you give them. My child does cross country and he loves to report to me how many laps he was able to do - all the other kids are like that too. Kids don't need more junk food, especially during a physical activity that they want to be doing anyway. Our school does not allow candy and junk food and I'm so happy about that. Even for birthdays. Some people think that's crazy but keep the cake for the actual party on the weekends.

  9. That's awesome Katie, what a fun way to work with kids. I am curious how your stair stepper is going. I am too in PT for issues stemming from weak glutes/hips/etc and tried ordering the stair-stepper but got an email a few days later saying they decided not to ship to AK :) I keep dragging my feet on trying to order a different one, but I think it would be a good way to build some muscle. I am walking a ton right now because its all I can do!

  10. What great track coaches you guys are! You make it sound so fun!!


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