Leader Ideas

  • Just Run

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"One of the teachers had the idea to create a Tracking Wall. We ran off two shoe designs on card stock and had all of the kids color their own shoes. We laminated them and cut them out. The track is all colored masking tape.

When a child reaches a designated mileage goal, we move his/her shoe into that 'miles run' area on wall. When a student reaches 100 miles, he gets a special sneaker sticker on his shoe. I write 100, 200, etc. on the stickers. Then the shoe starts the track all over again.

Two of my girls spend a recess or two each week moving all the shoes. I give them a Just Deed for that."

Getting Started: A great example of how to start the JUST RUN program is La Mesa Elementary School in Monterey. Two dedicated and enthusiastic moms, Julie Lemmon and Jefanna Tipton decided to take the idea to the school administration and met with a very supportive principal. They then sent a flyer out to all grades and the one flyer plus word of mouth resulted in 50 children participating in their after school program.

Meetings: They decided to start by meeting one day a week on Mondays at 3:15 for an hour. They hope to increase the days later.

The Course: The moms measured and layed out a 1 mile course around a park near La Mesa Elementary school and put out cones to mark every 10th of a mile.

Separating into Groups: There are children from Kindergarten up through 6th grade and at the first session, based on ability, there were 4 running groups formed. They are mostly based on age but there are some younger kids that run with and keep up with faster groups.

Stretching and warm up: Each session is started with a group stretching session for warm up.

Advice: The moms say, "We tried to do some structure but the kids just really like to run the course to see how they can do. We tried doing some relay races but they turned out too chaotic. We have done some ladder runs where each group runs in a line and they take turns going from the back to the front of the group to set the pace. Every other week they like to JUST RUN the course to see how fast they can go.

With the younger kids we do some red light, green light, orange light drills so they can learn pace a bit better. They tend to know their own limitations and slow down and speed up as they feel. We have found that when we tell them not to stop until they reach a cone marker that helps their endurance as they often go a bit further when they feel like stopping.

After only a month, we have kids already in the first group that are running the 1 mile course twice. We already see increases in endurance and sense of pace."

Recognition: "We give verbal recognition each session to those who run in between our sessions and who run with their moms and dads. We already have kids that are close to accumulating 26 miles and doing 26 good deeds and are eager to get the JUST RUN incentive shirt the program provides."

Coach Shawna Gunwall of Roosevelt Elementary School in Salinas gives the following advice.

The kids really enjoyed running and the running program and usually kept their enthusiasm up by themselves. I only did a few things that seemed to keep them motivated and a bit surprised. Once every couple of weeks I would mix things up on the track by making them go the opposite direction than usual.

To keep track of their laps I would use a washable marker and "dot" the top of their hands until they completed all the laps required for that day. They seemed to like markers that had letters or numbers on them.

We also had the children and parents sign a "contract" stating that they could only miss so many practices or they would be dropped from the team. We had our own team shirt made and I didn't actually drop any child for missed practices, but I did not give them a team shirt if they missed too many practices.

On days that were particularly hot one of the moms brought a couple of spray bottles. Every time a child passed two spots on the track they ran through an invigorating shower of water. They really LOVED that one.

I also gave positive rewards for great participation. The kids that didn't miss more than 3 practices received a special lunch party. It was inexpensive and it gave them a goal.

In the end I think what motivated them most was knowing that they were aiming at a goal race associated with the Big Sur Marathon and so many other kids would be running as well. And that it was such a large event. They talked about crossing that finish line for weeks before and for weeks after. I had so many ask me afterwards if we were going to continue running practice during the Summer for next years run. That showed me that running was burned into their souls and that they actually enjoyed it! Nothing could make me prouder!

To get the teachers going, I have gone into some rooms and fixed them a JUST RUN bulletin board. I have taken the students out myself and did laps on the track. The activity they really like is Switcharoo. Runners find a partner, get back to back, and go in opposite directions with one walking and the other jogging. When they meet, they high-5 and switch walking and jogging. It gets them all moving because they have a partner depending on them. The JUST RUN bulletin boards in the hallway at school look good. If you can stop by sometime to see them, that would be great!  Cheryl Mattison

Megan Okui, one of our CSUMB student assistants, reports that the Porter Youth Center had access to a regulation track. They used the track one day a week.

When the kids first get to the track they do a series of stretches and hold them to a count of 10. After stretching they ran laps and used a hand stamp to record laps for each child.

As each child finished a designated number of laps - increasing each session from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5, etc. then the child would go to one of several exercise station areas.

There were exercise stations designated for jumping jacks, push ups, and sit ups. After the exercises a warm down lap or two was run.

The children also enjoyed competition like 100 meter sprints against each other, with the winners advancing from each group to race against each other. They also liked to run one lap to beat a designated time - like everyone run faster than 2 minutes.

One special workout most kids enjoyed was a backwards challenge. To mix up the running on the track, they were challenged to run backwards the entire time for one lap without stopping or to do some out of the ordinary thing besides running.

One interesting idea is to get children who usually stand and talk to "walk while they talk" at recesses from school or during lunch time. Especially if they were pedometers this walking while talking gives them quite a bit of unexpected exercise.

Brandon Currie, a CSUMB Service Learner and scholarship Baseball player, helping with the Marina Vista elementary school after school program provides the following advice:

The kids really seem to enjoy any type of running we do. We try to keep them moving the entire time and don't want them idle too long. With that in mind, there are some activities they enjoy more than others.

1. For a warm up - we set out soccer balls about 30 feet away from the kids. We have them get into lines of about 4-5 behind one of the soccer balls; there are about 10 soccer balls. If the teams are bigger then they are idle too long between running. Make your teams as small as possible. Each kid, in turn, then runs to the soccer ball and runs around the soccer twice to the right and comes back. They repeat this twice and then go to the left twice.

2. We have the kids line up in a horizontal line in any random order and again have the soccer balls about 30 feet away. We yell out a grade level and the kids all run to the beginning of the soccer balls, they then run over the top of each soccer ball as you go down the line of balls. The key here is organization and team work. The kids have to be able to form the line at the beginning of the balls and make it over each ball without hitting any of them. What makes this exciting for the kids is the competition; we time the kids and reward the winning grade with praise. They then brag about how they won to the rest of the kids.

3. The kids don’t really seem to enjoy running a straight mile, however, when we broke up the mile and made it into long relays they seemed to enjoy it a lot better. You have a group of four kids and you line them up at each corner of the track or designated parts of the field you run on. One of the kids starts with a baton in their hands and they run straight ahead towards their partner and then hand off the baton and wait until it gets back around to them. When the kids race against each other they seem to work harder and have more fun. Also timing them makes them try harder and compare their times from one session to the next. We also mix up the teams so they all get to know each other.

4. In terms of stretching and warm-ups it is always important to get a little jog in before you start stretching. To do this we just take a warm up lap around the field. While stretching we involve the kids with counting. When you do each exercise it is important to get each kid to do the stretch properly and it is important that they do it for a long enough time. By stretching with them, we can show them how things are supposed to be done, then we count aloud and get the kids to do the same thing. We have them yell the count as loud as they can because they seem to really enjoy that.

Brittany Davis, a CSUMB student helping with the Junipero Serra program and Shannon Dunne-Gamble, the JUST RUN leader developed a relay program that the children enjoyed and "asked for more". Its based on the Coach Sevene drill package and keeps things fun while emphasizing agility, balance, and several movements.

First put 5 or 6 cones evenly spaced over a certain distance. (They used about 100 yards)

Break the children up evenly into teams depending on how many cones you are using. The children on a team should be same as the number of cones used. Have multiple teams.

Then place one child from each team at each cone.

You can invent different movements between each cone but we used the following:

  • From the first cone to the second cone they did high knees.
  • From the second cone to the third, the child at the second cone was lying on their back and when tagged they get up and will run backwards to cone three.
  • From cone three to cone four, the child at cone 3 will be kneeling on both legs and once they are tagged they get up and do "grapevine" (running sideways) to cone four.
  • From cone four to cone five the child at cone four is sitting and once tagged they get up and skip to cone 5.
  • From cone five to cone 6 the child at cone 5 will be on one knee and once tagged they will sprint to cone 6.
  • From cone six back to cone one the child will sprint and tag the next person.

Repeat this until everyone has done each station or as long as you please

A key thing to remember is once they tag a person they stay at that cone and wait to be tagged.

To help out too we also had a parent at each station to help the children. For example, make sure the kids stay at the cone, make sure they are laying or sitting or whatever and to remind them what they are suppose to do i.e. run backwards, skip etc.

One great program idea is the Run with the Principal day started by Pepper Butler at New Republic School in Salinas. Pepper has a few days per week as part of the JUST RUN program where students can "Run with the Principal". Pepper gets in her own run and many many kids tag along with her.

This is usually done on the track or the athletic field. Its amazing how many kids are motivated to run, be healthy, and stay active, by seeing that their principal does the same thing.

Kamann School in Salinas makes a point of starting the day with the JUST RUN program. There are many benefits for this. The children usually start the day by being social with their friends. Its a healthy way for the children to complete their social talk on a nice run, rather than waiting and using valuable classroom time.

The teachers have also found that the early run "slows down" those children that are hyperactive and exciteable and makes them ready to concentrate when the enter the classroom.

The early morning run makes the children more energetic and capable of concentrating on school as well in their early classes.

Just like adults, Kamann students, comment that they miss their morning run when for some reason they cannot do it.

Stephanie Fournier, the JUST RUN coordinator at La Mesa School, created a JUST RUN bulletin board in a prominent location in the hallway of her school. She used JUST RUN mileage markers and printed them off in color for 25, 50, 75, and 100 miles. These were posted on the bulletin board along with lists of children that achieved those mileage goals. This is a great motivator and gives recognition to all the children that reach mileage goals.