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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Will Cross-Training Help Improve My 5K Time?

Cross-trainingI started running about three years ago when my kids participated in their first season of cross country. Up until then, we were strictly a track and field family. My daughter and I did our first 5K road race about two years ago and I never really got much faster. Even this last winter and spring when I tripled and some weeks quadrupled my mileage running with her in her off-season, my times stayed about the same. Then I had a thought:

What if I try cross-training to improve my time?

Simply running isn’t working so now that school is back in session and my daughter is running with the high school and my son is entrenched in his sprinter/lifting workouts, I am trying something new. I was a swimmer as a kid and the year that my daughter was swimming on a year-round swim team and running cross country was one of her best seasons yet. So that is what I’m going to try. Here is my plan:

Cross-Training Videos – I’ve talked about my Jillian Michael’s video before. I really like this video. I am doing Level 2 on Mondays and Level 3 on Thursdays.

Swimming – Twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, I’m going to hit the pool. Today was actually my first day back and I managed to swim 2000 yards pretty much non-stop. I did take a couple of quick water breaks but I actually swam pretty steadily. Boy, though, my arms are tired today! Hopefully, I’ll get over that in a few more swims. It’s awful feeling so out of shape for a sport that I spent over 12 years of my life doing.

Running – I am going to do two runs each week for the next couple of months then closer to our next 5K in December, I will probably add a third. I’m going to try a mix of easy runs and speed work. We’ll see how that goes.

I will report back how this is working out and I guess we will see in December if I can finally have a PR!

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Run Smart in Summer Heat

Weather ImageI know it is August and summer is winding down but it is just still so darn hot here in the south. This summer we’ve had ‘feels like’ temperatures around 113 degrees! Even today, at 7:30 am, the ‘feels like’ temperature was 96 degrees. Some days we were supposed to run but my daughter took one look at that temperature and said “NO WAY!”

Over the past few months, we’ve learned a few ways to make our hot, summer runs a little easier.

  1. Run in the early morning or evening.
  2. Take water or a sports drink with you and carry it while you run.
  3. Don’t overdress. Seriously, even capri pants are too hot sometimes.
  4. Slow your overall pace.
  5. Walk if you need to. Unless you are training for an important race, there is no reason you can’t take walk breaks. I do. Lots of ’em!

What tips do you have for those awful hot, summer runs?

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Summer Dinner Planning to make Busy Days Easier

Dinner Plans_imageIf you are anything like me, planning dinners and grocery shopping are not your favorite activities. Every time I go to the store I ask for input on the list from my kids but they never have anything to contribute, which makes it even harder when I have to guess what the kids might want on any given day.

This year, I decided to try to make the grocery shopping easier and dinner planning more streamlined by designating certain days of the week as having different themes. The themes, like fish night or chicken night, can have different recipes each week for variety, but my hope is that having a theme for the night will give me a more “standard shopping list” each week and take a lot of the thinking and planning out of my week.

Summer Dinner Themes:
Sunday – Breakfast for dinner such as Waffles, Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon, and Sausage. If you want to get fancy, try crepes, Ebelskivers or Eggs Benedict.
Monday – Alternating weeks of hamburgers and paninis.
Tuesday – Taco Tuesdays which can be anything Mexican like tacos, enchiladas, burritos, taco pie or quesadillas.
Wednesday – Fish night so anything fish or seafood goes.
Thursday – Chicken night. Same as fish night. Use all of your favorite recipes. My kids have track practices on Thursday nights so I’ll mostly choose crock pot recipes or dishes that I can prep before practice and finish quickly when we get home.
Friday – Pizza night…because everyone just loves pizza.
Saturday – Noodle night including spaghetti (of any shape), baked ziti, stuffed shells, manicotti, or ravioli.

I think following this plan will make shopping and planning easier. I can also get better ideas of what my kids want if I ask them to name a chicken dinner they want than just to ask what they want out of hundreds of options.

List Tip: I found the coolest app that let you make electronic shopping lists that work better for me than paper. The app is called “List Ease” and it was free in the App Store. You can type in or scan items that you often buy and then move them around from your pantry list to an active shipping list. I don’t have any relationship with this app, but I do use it and really like having it on my phone because I can just move items around from list to list as I plan and shop.

Three cheers for easier meal planning and grocery shopping this summer!


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Write and Run Update: May 23, 2016 Week

Write Run Challenge Week Image 2This is my second week of my Write and Run Challenge. This is more of a typical week for me as far as the number of days running. I usually run four to six days per week. So, here is what I have accomplished so far:

Monday, May 23rd – Run: 2.42 (3894 meters).
Write: 672 words

Tuesday, May 24th – Run: 6.0 miles (9656 meters)
Write: 1220 words

Wednesday, May 25th – Run: 0.0 (Cross Training with Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I did Level 2 today.)
Write: 199 words

Thursday, May 26th – Run 5.0 miles (8046 meters.)
Write: 205 words

Friday, May 27th – Run 0.0 miles (Day off!)
Write: 886 words (oops, that was NOT good!)

Saturday, May 28th – Run 6.0 (9656 meters)
Write: 880 words (I tried…but I fell asleep)

Sunday, May 29th – Run 5.5 (8851 meters…I’ll admit this is an estimate. My daughter made me switch watches with her because hers was about out of battery. Seems to be a theme…)
Write: 3485 words

Grand Total for Week: 40103 meters (almost 25 miles) run, 7547 words written. Maybe one word per one meter is too ambitious. I’ll keep trying.


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May 2016 Youth Track Meet…My Kids did Great!

Track Meet KidsAs you may know, my kids run for the local track club. My son runs for his high school but participates for the youth track club when his high school season is over. This year, his high school team was second at the state meet and the girls were state champs! Last year, the boys won and the girls were second. Hopefully, next year they can both pull out a win.

We absolutely love both the high school team and our youth team. You can’t ask for a better set of coaches, many are even volunteers, and awesome kids. I suspect that most of you who read this have the same feelings about your teams. There is just something special about runners.

Now here is where I turn into the total gushing Mom and brag about how they did this weekend.
Noah – 16 years old
110 Hurdles = 18.10 (PR of 0.23 seconds) YAY! – anyone know how to make him 3-step the whole way? When he does, that time is dropping like a rock!
400 Dash = 52.99 (PR of 2.32 seconds) YAY!
Long Jump = 5.92 meters (PR of 0.86 meters) YAY!
400 Hurdles – 1:01.91 (no PR. His best is 59.59. But, this was his last event of an 11 hour day so not too back for the circumstances)

Piper – 11 years old
1500 meter Run = 5:41.40 (PR of 8.11 seconds) YAY!
3000 meter Run = 12:39.01 (PR of 2.55 seconds) YAY!
Discus Throw = 9.92 meters (no PR but her form is looking better so I think I PR is coming soon).

I also found that my kids really like to have the Gatorade Recover Protein Shakes at meets. They may only drink one or less during the whole day but they feel a little better after a hard event if they get a little protein in them. My kids can’t stand to eat sandwiches at meets so I need drinkable protein like smoothies, which I also make and freeze the night before. You can freeze them and then when you get to the meet, take them out and let them thaw. If you know of other drinkable protein or protein chews (like gummies), please let me know.

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