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3. Team Program Maintenance

There are several key ways to keep your team running smoothly. You'll need to track the progress of your Young Runners in order to reward them with patches and other incentives. As a program lead, your role ranges from administrator to problem solver to mentor. And New York Road Runners will play a crucial role. Here's a guide to maintaining your Young Runners program.

Goals and Incentives

Tracking Mileage and Time

During the first two weeks and the last two weeks of each season, your Young Runners will complete the One Mile Challenge in order to set and then evaluate their performance goals. You will enter One Mile Challenge times, Goal sheets, and Distance Logs (view a short STRIDES video about entering Distance Logs) into STRIDES.  As athletes reach their goals, reward them with the following incentives, and help them set new goals!


Students earn patches for the first time they run a mile in under:

12 minutes • 10 minutes • 8 minutes • 6 minutes

Students earn a patch for the first time they run or walk the following distances without stopping (as long as their pace is 18 minute/mile or faster):

2 miles • 5 km (3.1 miles) • 4 miles

Other Incentives: Attendance and Effort

You are responsible for taking attendance at each practice and race or event. Young Runners accumulate attendance points and are eligible for incentives at various point-levels. Enter attendance into STRIDES once a week or once every two weeks. At the end of each season, NYRR will send incentives to all runners who earned them.

Nominate one female and one male member of your team each month to be the Runner of the Month (view a short STRIDES video about Electing a Runner of the Month). This award should be used to recognize athletes for such qualities as sportsmanship, improvement, positive attitude, and preparedness.

Program Lead Guide

The Roles of Program Lead

Being the Program Lead of a Young Runners team is fun and rewarding, and also an important leadership position. You will wear many hats: intrepid leader, trusted guardian, the “rock” that both your students and NYRR can depend on. Here are your most important roles:


Entering information into STRIDES and submitting Participant Release forms is an important part of communication with NYRR. It also ensures Young Runners receive their incentives. Keep your Field Coordinator up-to-date on the following:

  • Practice cancellations
  • Event attendance
  • Questions regarding program maintenance or enhancement


You are an advisor and role model to your kids. When your attitude fosters effort and sportsmanship, you encourage your team members to feel the same way. You must also make sure everyone feels included and committed. Being committed to the team means arriving on time, respecting others, and working hard to break a sweat.

Safety Monitor

Safety and welfare should be your top priority. Collect emergency contact and medical information for all the runners. In cases of injury, you should fill out the Incident Report Form that can be downloaded from STRIDES. Always follow your school or organization's safety protocols.

Problem Solver

All program leads will face challenging situations, no matter how prepared you are. Here are a few typical scenarios you might encounter.

  • Bullying: Prevent bullying by announcing that Young Runners is a bully-free zone. Bullying includes teasing, name-calling, starting rumors, etc. If an incident occurs, remind the bully that being part of a team means respecting others and continuing to disrespect teammates can result in consequences.
  • Motivation: Keep your Young Runners motivated by encouraging them to make incremental improvements and praising them when they do. Remind athletes that enthusiasm and effort are as important as reaching performance goals.
  • Various skill-levels: Your team will likely have members of different skill levels, but it is important to treat all Young Runners as athletes. Remind them to strive for personal goals rather than comparing themselves to other runners.
  • Interference from parents: You may encounter parents who do not agree with your style of coaching. Ask them to discuss disagreements with you privately, at which time you can present the program goals of Young Runners. If their child wishes to stay on the Young Runners team, ask the parents to be supportive of the Young Runners style of coaching.

The Role of NYRR

You are not alone! NYRR is dedicated to helping make your Young Runners program a success. Your primary contact will be your Field Coordinator. (If a problem arises with your Field Coordinator, contact the Young Runners Program Supervisor immediately at [email protected].) Here's what you can count on from NYRR:


You will receive periodic emails from the Young Runners team. These include important details and deadlines for races, bus requests, and reminders of upcoming events. During race weeks you can also expect race-specific and bus-specific notices. If you are participating in a race and requested a bus but do not receive confirmation emails, please write [email protected].

The Field Coordinator

The Field Coordinator is the program lead's primary contact with NYRR. All questions should be directed to him or her first. Field Coordinators will attend practice on a regular basis twice a month.

Field Coordinators will actively assist the program lead at practices but should never be put in the position of being the primary adult supervision.


  • 2. Set Up

    In our experience, thorough preparation leads to engaged students, inspired coaches, enthusiastic administrators, and successful programs.

  • 4. Practice Sessions

    Time to start running! This section has guidelines and tips--from planing the first practice to keeping students motivated at the year's end.