Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.
My friend and I will be coaching a girls running club for the third year at our school for third through sixth grade. We start in March and will meet twice a week for eight weeks to prepare them for a 5-K at the end of April. What would you recommend for a good training schedule to follow? We will have runners/walkers of all kinds. We also will have about five to seven other volunteers, who will be with our group of 60 girls. I’m also looking for the best stretches for the group as well as speed training for those who are older and want to improve their times?
First, let me congratulate you and your fellow volunteers for your initiative in starting and continuing this program, dedicating yourselves to the physical fitness of our children. We hear a lot of talk about growing obesity, but you have put action to talk. Second, you simply need to surf over to my Web site, halhigdon.com, to read my article: Is Running Good for Children? (Quick answer to that question: Yes! Running is good for our children.) One of the sidebars linked to the article offers a training program: Four Weeks to Fitness. That program peaks at 1 mile, which may not be enough for your group. Your group would achieve greater success following one of my 5-K training programs (novice, intermediate, advanced). The upper two programs include speedwork.
As for stretching, I no longer try to teach that activity through the Internet, feeling that a good coach can invent stretches to satisfy her athletes. I suspect this would be particularly true for a coach working with young (and pliable) children. Nevertheless, check out what I have to say on the subject at S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G. Good luck as you continue to teach the next generation of runners.