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FITNESSGRAM 1 Mile Testing: Getting Kids to do Their Best

FITNESSGRAM 1 Mile Testing: Getting Kids to do Their Best

If you are training children to run the one mile Fitnessgram test, Just Run has the following suggestions for preparation and the best race day performance.

Children should have fun and do the Make the 1 mile race an “event.” Make it fun and enjoyable.

Pointers for Warm-up and Training:

  • Always stretch and walk or jog a bit before running. 2. Start slowly and then pick up the pace.
  • To gain endurance while training for the race you should be gradually increasing your distance run in the weeks leading up to the race.
  • Always stretch and walk or jog a bit after running.

Getting Faster:

  • Work on endurance first, then speed after. You should be able to run over a mile without walking before you work on getting faster.
  • Learn to get faster by doing “interval” training. Run short distances faster---then slow down until you are rested--- then run faster again. Make your faster intervals longer as you get closer to race day.
  • NEVER run as fast as you can except right at the end of the race.

Clothes and Shoes and Weather:

  • Optimal performance will be on a “good” weather day with the temperature between 55 and 65 degrees. Try to schedule your Fitnessgram mile run under ideal conditions, even if you have to run early in the morning to avoid heat. Look for ideal temperature, no wind, less humidity.
  • Children should wear shoes made for running, shorts and a t-shirt or singlet.
  • If it’s going to be a hot day no matter what you do, avoid dark colors, as they absorb the heat!
  • Double knot shoes before the race so they don’t become untied.

Food / Drink:

  • Drink a bit more water than usual the day before your run, but NOT huge amounts. Don’t eat a big meal the night before. Try to have pasta the night before because it provides carbohydrates which give you energy.
  • Day of the race: Don’t have a big breakfast! Drink some water and eat a slice of toast or a bagel and a banana about 90 minutes to 2 hours before your race and don’t eat anything after that.

Good Running Form

  • Stay relaxed. Don’t grit your teeth or clench your fists. Keep Smiling. If your face and hands are relaxed, your whole body will be relaxed, and you will be able to run easier. Keep your hands cupped but not closed tightly.
  • Be efficient. Keep your head steady, swing your arms in a relaxed manner and avoid wasting energy. Your arms should NOT swing across your body.
  • Run upright, leaning forward slightly but not bending over.
  • Breathing: Breathe through both your nose and mouth…you need as much oxygen as you can get! Keep your breathing relaxed.

WHAT IF YOU HURT? Remember it is normal to feel very tired in a race.

  • Sideaches: If you get one then slow down, rub the area. Wait and it will go away. Try to relax. You may also want to raise the arm on the opposite side of your body and run with that arm up in the air for awhile. The cramp should lessen.
  • Very Very Tired: Slow down, relax, but keep moving. Walk.
  • Dizziness: Stop and tell a grownup near you.

Race Day Manners:

  • Don’t start out too fast; you will be excited and probably start too fast. Hold back! It will help you towards the end of the race. If your heart is thumping and you can hardly breathe, you’re running too fast!
  • If you notice your shoe is untied, don’t just stop in the middle of the run! Pull over to the side to tie that shoe. If you stop in front of other runners…you might get run over.
  • If you are not passing slower runners, stay to the right. Leave enough room for other runners to pass you.

How Do You Teach Children to Pace Themselves?

This is a key area and there are many techniques you can use. Children (and adults) will always run their fastest in the mile run if their “splits” are approximately equal. That means each 200 or 400 meters that they run are approximately at the same pace. As you know, most children go out way too fast and then pay for their enthusiasm by slowing way down. This also makes the run less enjoyable. Here is what you can do in the weeks leading up to the timed mile run.

Introduce concepts of pacing—a key element to running—in a simple and fun manner. School kids are used to activities based on short bursts of speed, not on running a sustained slower pace. You should train them by having them run at different speeds and have each child judge how tired they are at each speed.

It is important that you use a display time clock or, if you cannnot acquire one, that you shout times using a stop watch. Ask your local college, junior college, high school track, or swimming coach to borrow a display clock – they should all have one.

  • Do a time trial early on to establish a baseline measurement so runners can measure their progress.
  • Use the baseline time trial to calculate initial goal times, target paces, and splits for each student.
  • Have similarly paced students run together and with a display clock have them run 400 meters and try to come close to pre-determined times. For example, if you have a group of students who run 10 minute miles, have them run each 400 meters in 2 minutes and 30 seconds each. Then have them try to run 2 minutes and 20 seconds to see how that feels. If you have a group of students who run 8 minute miles have them run each 400 meters in 2 minutes even.
  • A suggestion is to turn the clock backward so they cannot see it – ask them to try to run 400 meters in 2 minutes and the student who comes the closest “wins.” When they pass the clock they stop and turn to see how close they came.
  • Pick students who run 7, 8, 9, 10 minutes a mile and have them lead a group run at their pace and everyone has to stay behind them. Then each student knows approximately what pace and how it feels to run that speed.
  • Find adults or high school students to run with your group at certain paces and your students have to stay behind them and learn that pace. Have them run at different paces so each child knows that pace and how it feels.
  • Teach kids to start slower by saying they have to sing a song or talk to the person next to them for the entire first lap. If you are running too fast, then you won’t be able to run or sing.