Rules are there for a Reason in High School Running

HS RulesHigh School athletics come with a variety rules in South Carolina, and I suspect other states as well. There are rules for different part of a season such as open season, closed season, and in-season. There are rules for eligibility for athletes and coaches alike. While they can seem complicated, I believe that they are in place for a good reason. They keep the coaching and competitions fair for all student-athletes.

There was a recent announcement in our town that a well-known youth team coach was hired by a local private high school but will continue to coach the youth team as well. Since several of the athletes from this high school typically also participate on the youth team, this violates the rule that says that a private high school coach cannot coach an outside team if that high school has three or more athletes on the outside team. This rule of limiting coaches from coaching outside teams if a specific number of their athletes participate also exists for the public schools in South Carolina.

As part of full disclosure, I know this coach and my children used to participate on the youth team. While I respect this coach for her hard work over the years, I don’t think this situation is right. Allowing this coach to run a high school program and a youth program is not only against the rules but sets a bad precedent for all South Carolina athletes and programs. Here’s why.

Violates Existing Rules

High school athletics associations go to great lengths to develop and maintain rules that create a fair competition for the students in the state. The rule for limiting high school coaches from outside teams ensures that high school athletes have the same training time with their specific coaches for their sport as all other competitors. I would have loved my son to be coached all year long by his high school coaches but that is not what the rules allow. By allowing this coach to coach a private school and a youth team, which allows athletes up to 19, they are ensuring that the high school athletes from this high school have access to their coach year-round.

Opens the Door for More and More Policy Violation Requests

If the South Carolina Independent School Association allows this particular coach to have a high school and youth team, it opens the floodgates for requests from every high school coach in the state to be allowed to coach their athletes during the off-season. At that point, how can you say that it is okay for one coach and not every other school in the state? Just because this coach has been involved with a youth team for years, does not entitle them, and only them, to the benefit of additional coaching time with her athletes.

Sets a Bad Example for Student-Athletes

This situation sets a bad example for student-athletes as well. How many times are athletes told that they must maintain their grades, turn in their physicals and permission forms, and follow their coaches’ rules so that they are eligible to compete? Daily. If adults allow one coach to openly violate a rule that everyone knows about, what does that say to our students? That it is okay to fail that one class because we’ll just ignore the rule this one time? Do we really want to teach our kids that skirting the rules is okay? No, we don’t because that can lead to more serious issues in their lives.

Opens the Door for Recruiting

The South Carolina Independent Schools are private schools in our state. Parents and children can choose to attend that school regardless of zoning. For students who are serious runners, having access to your high school coach when other schools do not, could be a big draw. While this school may never use the situation openly as a recruiting tool, it is certainly a plus for their runners.

My Final Thoughts

As a parent who wants to instill hard work and fair competition into my children, I find this situation troublesome. I’m not the kind of parent who advocates participation trophies for everyone, but I certainly think that all schools, coaches, and athletes should have to follow the rules so that the competitions are as fair as possible and that no athletes have a significant advantage over others, simply because their coach asked to blatantly break the rules.

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I’m What Age for Track and Field?!

How Old Track SeasonTrack season is kicking off here is South Carolina and with a new year, come new age groups for many kids. My kids run USATF meets. Running has different age rules compared to come other sports like swimming. In swimming, kids age up on their birthday so if the day they turn 11 they swim 11-12. For running, you are considered the age you will be on December 31st of the current calendar year.

For most kids, the age is pretty close to their actual age. My daughter turns 14 in June so she will be 13-14 all year for both track and cross-country. Her teammate, who is currently 16, turns 17 on November 30th so he will be 17-18 for track and field season even though he will actually be 16 for months after the season ends.

You can find the breakdown of age groups and birth years on this website: USATF Youth Age Divisions. Many teams will take 5 and 6 year-olds, but while they can compete in local meets, kids have to be 7 years-old to complete at the national level. Also, kids like my son, who will be 17-18 for three years can compete as long as they do no turn 19 years old before the national meet in July.

Some kids love to have January birthdays so they are competing in their actual age all year long. But if you have a child with a fall birthday and they are stuck in an upper age group, remind them that older kids will push them to run faster. Also, as you progress to older age groups there are more events available for you to compete in so you have more options for races and more time to develop your skills in those events.

I know two kids who have birthdays on December 31st. While they both hated their birthdays for track and cross-country running, they both did great running against the older kids which gave them a lot of confidence as they moved through the age groups. So, tell your kids to embrace their new age group this season and have a great run.


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Top 3 Reasons Your Kids Should Run an Indoor Track Meet

Indoor Track MeetThis spring will be my son’s tenth season running track and my daughter’s ninth. We live in South Carolina where there is only an outdoor track and field season. Since my son wants to run in college, he decided to try an indoor track meet last week because many colleges do participate in indoor meets during the wintertime.

So, just before New Year’s Eve, my son and I made the trek to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the JDL Fast Track for him to compete in a youth meet hosted by NC United. My daughter, just having finished cross-country season, did not want to run so we left her and the Hubby home with the dog so he didn’t have to spend a couple of lonely days in the kennel.

The meet was great and very well run. I’m kind of sad that it took us ten years to try this out. Here are my top three reasons why you should take your kids to an indoor track and field meet at some point during their running career.

Reason #1:  The Weather is Great! Indoor meets have no heat, no cold, no wind and no rain. The facilities are temperature controlled and it is perfect weather for runners and spectators.

Reason #2:  The Track is Short. The JDL Fast Track is 200 meters around but some others are 300 meters. It is a great experience for runners who are thinking of competing in college to experience the track because the straight-a-ways are shorter and the curves seem tighter.

Reason #3:  New Events. Indoor meets have some different events than regular outdoor track and field meets. My son ran his very first 60 meter dash at the meet last weekend. There was also a 60 meter hurdle race and some other indoor meets have events like the 300m dash or the 1000 meter run. I think it is a great experience for runners to try new events when they have a chance.

The video below is the 60 meter dash, 15-18 boys. Noah was in Lane 2, red shirt, gray shorts. He was 2nd in the heat. 7.25 sec. Not too shabby for his first 60m ever!

Have your kids run at an indoor meet? If so, what do they (and you) love about them?

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My Version of Farklets on the Track

Track FarkletsFarklets are a common distance running workout. Typically, runners will do their routine warm up and then for the main set, will run a set distance while rotating through a series of hard sprints followed by easier sections. Some runners run patterns for their sprint section and other choose random times or distances.

I like more of a pattern to my workout. Ok, maybe I just like knowing when I can walk a little bit. I don’t really run fast enough to go slow and fast so I use walk and as fast as I can, instead. I like to go to the track and do my warm-up which consists of one or two laps around the track and then dynamic stretches. (My kids taught me the routine.) Then, I do 30 minutes where I run the straight sections of the track and speed walk the curves. Each time I do this workout, I try to run just a little further than the previous time in the same 30 minutes.

The first time I tried the workout, I made it 2.25 miles in 30 minutes. Not too bad considering how much I was speed walking. I’ve worked my way up to 2.50 miles on a good day. I really like this workout, especially on really hot and/or humid days, which seem to be about 10 months out of the year here in South Carolina.

Do you like to run a version of a farklet workout? What is your favorite method?

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Cross Country Team Scoring Explained

Cross Country Scoring ExplainedCross country meets have a different method of scoring that traditional sports. In most cases, the high score wins. But not in cross country. In cross country, the lowest score wins. At each meet, a team is composed of seven or eight runners, depending on the meet rules. Runners not on a team compete as an individual. For each team, the top five finishers among the declared runners will score. Teams with less than five runners so not score points.

Points are assigned as a runner finishes. The winner is assigned one point, the second place runner is assigned two points. This method continues until all runners are assigned a point value. The top five runners on each team combine their points to get an overall team score.

Following is an example of cross country scoring:

Cross Country Scoring Table

As you can see by this example, Track Team A team scored 28 points (1st place), Track Team B scored 43 points (2nd place) Track Team D scored 56 points (3rd place) and Track Team F scored 97 points (4th place). In the overall results, the runners who did not score points (far right column) were not part of a team.

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Cross Country Meet Procedures

Cross country meet proceduresCross Country season is upon us and that means shorter meets and hopefully, cooler temperatures. If this is your first time having a cross country runner in the family you are in for a wild ride. Here are a few things that you need to know about cross country meets that are different from track and field.

Time Frame
Cross country meets are generally short. You and your athlete will likely need to be at the meet for less than four hours. Many meets offer a course walk-through before the first race. This is more common at youth events than high school meets. The meet information sheet will list a time for the walk-through. If you choose to take part in the walk-through, please arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled walk-through time to give yourself time to park and find the coaches. You are not required to attend the walk-through, but it can be helpful if your athlete has never run the course before.

Meet Schedules
The cross country meet schedule will list the race time for each age group. Sometimes, the meet directors will allow the races to run 15 to 30 minutes early. You should plan to arrive 1.0 to 1.5 hours before your race time to warm-up and stretch. Make sure to talk to you coach about arrival times to make sure that you have ample time to get your bib, gather with your teammates and talk to your coaches before you run.

Some cross country meets will require the athletes to check-in with race officials at the start line before the race begins. If check-in is required, information regarding check-in procedures will be provided by the coaches and/or meet information sheet. Check-in is typically required at State, Regional and National meets.

Race Distances
Cross country meets for youth and high school have different race distances depending on a runners age. These are:

2K (2ooo meters) 8 & under runners
3K (3000 meters) 9-12 year old runners
4K (4000 meters) 13-14 year old runners
5K (5000 meters) 15-18 year old runners and all high school runners

What to Bring
One nice thing about cross country meets is that you do not need much stuff. Since you will only be there for a few hours, drinks for you and your runner, pre- and post-race snacks and your running shoes. Yes, parents will need to jog from spot to spot on the course if you want to see your runners go by.

I hope this helps new parents get ready for their first meet. If you are a seasoned parent, drop by the comments and let us now your favorite tips for getting ready for the first cross country meet of the season.



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Cross-Training Days for Runners Can Be Fun

Pool Cross TrainToday, I jumped back in the pool for my first swim in a long time. It’s easy to forget that cross-training can help your running but picking a few days each week to try something different is great for your running as well as your mind. If you’ve read some of my posts, you know that I was not a runner growing up. I was a swimmer and never started running until my kids wanted to run cross-country for the local youth track club. I went to their first meet and asked one of the seasoned Mom’s how you cheer and she

If you’ve read some of my posts, you know that I was not a runner growing up. I was a swimmer and never started running until my kids wanted to run cross-country for the local youth track club. I went to their first meet and asked one of the seasoned Mom’s how you cheer and she said “follow me!” Those few minutes of huffing and puffing made me realize that if my kids were going to keep this up, I needed to learn how to run.

Ever since that first cross-country meet, I’ve been running and try to get some cross-training and weight lifting in there too. I got out of the pool for a while and decided that now was a good time to start again. Just like with running, the first few minutes are the worst. If you haven’t been a pool in a while and decided to jump in for a quick 2000 yard swim, see how long it takes your shoulders to let you know that you should have never stopped! It took mine about five minutes today. 🙂

What do you do to cross-train? If you are in the Charleston area, let me know and one day we’ll go for a great cross-training day or run sometime!




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How to Remove those Stuck-On Track & Field Lane Number Stickers

Remove Hip NumbersIf you are a Track and Field Parent, there is no doubt that you have dealt with those stuck-on hip numbers. Some of those hip numbers just seem to fly right off as the kids run, but never the ones my kids get! I’ve tried all kinds of things to get these sticky, slick numbers off of their uniforms but nothing worked until I found this one little secret.

If you are like me, you threw that uniform right in the washing machine without even thinking twice. And…it is now stuck on that fabric even more. In the past, I’ve sat for HOURS trying to pick those stickers off of my kid’s clothes to no avail. I’ve tried bug & tar remover. I’ve tried fingernail polish. Nothing worked. Then I tried this one little trick that I overheard at a meet…PEANUT BUTTER!

Yep, that’s right. Peanut Butter is the secret weapon to removing those stubborn hip numbers from your child’s uniform. Here’s how you do it. After you return from a meet, peanutbutter-jarcheck your child’s uniform for multiple numbers placed on top of one another. It is helpful if you can get the stack down to just one sticker. But, if not, that’s okay too.

Lay the uniform on a table or counter and smear a thin layer of peanut butter on top of the number then turn the top or shorts inside out and place a second thin layer of peanut butter on the fabric behind the number. Let the peanut butter sit on the uniform for an hour or more to allow the oils from the peanut butter to penetrate the sticker.

After the peanut butter has time to sit, gently rub the peanut butter with a clean paper towel in a smooth motion across the sticker. The peanut butter will easily roll off the fabric in clumps and the hip number will peel right off of the uniform. Continue to rub the peanut butter gently until you remove all of it from the fabric then launder as usual. It may take a couple of trips through the washing machine to get the peanut butter smell out of the uniform!

Do you have any other foolproof methods to remove those stuck-on hip numbers? I’d love to hear them in the comments. If you try the peanut butter method, let me now how it works for you.


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Picking Events for Your Next Track Meet

Track Events for Kids_smTrack and field meets are great because they give young athletes the chance to try several different types of events. There are sprints, middle distance, and distance running events as well as a variety of jumping and throwing field events. Most youth meets are organized through teams associated either with USATF (USA Track & Field) or the (AAU) Amateur Athletic Association.

My kids competed at meets sponsored by USATF so this chart below represents the events that are available at those meets. I believe that AAU is similar or the same.

Event / Age Group 7-8 9-10 11-12 13-14 15-16 17-18
100m Dash X X X X X X
200m Dash X X X X X X
400m Dash X X X X X X
800m Run X X X X X X
1500m Run X X X X X X
3000m Run X X X X
80/100/110m Hurdles X X X X
200/400m Hurdles X X X
2000m Steeplechase X X
4x100m Relay X X X X X X
4x400m Relay X X X X X X
4x800m Relay X X X X
Long Jump X X X X X X
Triple Jump X X X
High Jump X X X X X
Pole Vault X X X
Shot Put X X X X X X
Discus Throw X X X X
Hammer Throw X X
Javelin Throw X X X X X X
Triathlon X
Pentathlon X X
Heptathlon (girls) X X
Decathlon (boys) X X

Generally, athletes that are 12 years old and younger can compete in three events and older athletes can compete in four.  Interestingly, while the relays count as an event for the athlete, a multi-event (triathlon, pentathlon, heptathlon and decathlon) does not count against the overall events for an athlete.

Athletes must compete in their own age group, which is determined by the age of the athlete on December 31st of the competition year. For example, a group of three girls who all turn 13 years old on January 1, 2017, June 30, 2017, and December 31, 2017, will all compete together in the 13-14 age group during the current track season. This age group determination also holds true for cross-country in the fall.

Following is a list of the events which comprise the multi-event competitions:

Triathlon Events – High Jump, Shot Put, 200m/400m (girls/boys)

Pentathlon Events – 100m hurdles, Shot Put, High Jump, Long Jump, 800m/1500m run (girls/boys)

Heptathlon Events – 100m Hurdles, High Jump, 200m dash, Shot Put,  Long Jump, Javelin, 800m Run

Decathlon Events – 100m dash, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400m dash, 110m Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin, 1500m run

The most important thing a new track and field athlete can do is to try out as many events as possible in their first few seasons. You never know what may end up being your favorite and/or best event, so try them all and have fun.




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My New Favorite Juice…Tart Cherry

tart-cherry-juiceI’ve mentioned before on this blog that I did not grow up running. I was a swimmer. But, do MY kids want to swim? NO. One did for a few years and other had no interest at all. So, off I go learning how to run like they do. Since I don’t have a running background, I read. I read lots of articles on running and nutrition for runners. Based on all of the articles I’ve read, we’ve tried all kinds of foods that are supposed to help runners. Spinach, arugula, butter lettuce and beets, just to name a few. Turns out that my daughter is allergic to arugula so that one is off the list. The kids don’t mind the spinach and lettuce but I got yelled at so many times for sticking beets in things…brownies…chocolate pudding…DO NOT make chocolate beet pudding! Ok, so I threw out the rest of the beets and beet juice. After the beet fiasco my son asked me to stop reading running articles. I told him okay…with my fingers crossed!

But my favorite new food is Tart Cherry Juice. Oh yeah. It tastes good. I think it tastes like drinking a cherry pie. My favorite brand is Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice. There are a bunch of tart cherry juices out there to choose from. I like the CheriBundi because they have a straight up Tart Cherry and a Black Cherry which is a mix of tart and black cherries and is a little sweeter. They also have these cool mix drinks like cherry juice with protein. I also bought the Cheribundi Cherry Lemonade Refresh…yum. There are so many ways to get your tart cherry juice each day.

Tart cherry juice has a lot of great properties that can help runners. The biggest benefit I see is that it can help your recovery time, which is especially great for us new and um, older runners who get sore after harder workouts. There are some great resources on the internet about tart cherry juice that you can read and see what you think. I’m not a doctor and I have no claim that any of this will definitely help your running. However, I have tried drinking it after long, hard runs and I do feel good later in the day and much better the next day. Do a little research yourself, and see if you want to give tart cherry juice a try.

Even though I like to drink the juice straight, my kids don’t love it like that. I usually make cherry jello for them. I use either all juice or a mix of juice and water in the jello and it really tastes great. Especially with a little whipped cream on top.

Here are three articles that I read about tart cherry juice that I found helpful:

Tart Cherries: An Endurance Superfood?

Beat Postrace Sniffles with This Juice

A growing number of elite athletes and weekend warriors are turning to Montmorency tart cherry juice as a post-exercise recovery drink

If you decide to give tart cherry juice a try, let me know how it goes. And, if you can give me some more recipe ideas to sneak it into my kids food I’m all ears!

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