BRJ Run and Tri has been part of the local running community for over 30 years. Over the same period road running has grown in popularity and appeal. In recent years it has extended its sports to include both duathlon and triathlon. It has also developed a junior section with the aim of introducing children and young people to the sports we enjoy.
Athletics clubs encompass a range of activities in track and field. Their emphasis is on athletic development and competition. As an endurance sports club BRJ includes the development of all round athletic development but with an emphasis on longer distances (400m +).
These are the values:
we welcome everyone regardless of level of running fitness
Easy to join participate, reducing barriers to access.
Emphasis on fun, variety, rewarding effort as well as achievement.
protection and promotion of child’s welfare; zero tolerance of bullying, and oppressive behaviour
Based upon these values these are the aim and the objectives which inform what we do.
To encourage and enable children to actively engage in running though the enjoying the challenges of coach led training activities in a variety of settings
- To design and manage a range of running activities which the children will find enjoyable and challenging
- To encourage the children to improve their running fitness through a series of graded activities based on all aspects of athlete development
- To enhance the children’s confidence and self esteem through their involvement in personal and team challenges and competitive events.
The benefits of running are well established. Through research and more subjective experience running is an activity that can have many physical and psychological benefits. In the early years children having mastered walking it is not long before they are running. Their natural energy and exuberance must be managed in some settings in which sitting still can be the challenge. In later years children can become less active or find opportunities to take part in sport more difficult to access.
Running is demanding. Taking up running again or attempting to improve as a runner takes energy and commitment. Running is rewarding. Achieving a goal over distance or pace is very satisfying.
For children and young people our activities will be based on chronological age and on the stage of the individual development as a runner.
For younger children the activities will be of shorter duration and varied. For older children the activities can last longer and be progressive, becoming increasingly difficult.
For our purpose challenge takes at least two forms.
- Intrinsic/ internal: improving running fitness and achieving individual running goals.
- Extrinsic / external: improving running fitness and improving performance in competition with others or against national standards.
There appears to be little research on the development of the young endurance runner. George Bunner* and England Athletics caution against exposing children to run over distances beyond a mile.
(* An Introduction to Endurance Running: Bunner G Eveque 2011)
Bunner and UKA developed a series of awards to chart the progress of young athletes through series of challenges. These included individual and team events. Although this appears to be no longer in use in schools it provides a useful template for BRJ to develop its own award structure.
BRJ Junior Standards
In the absence of a nationally agreed set of standards for young endurance runners we need to create our own.
This can be done by:
Agreeing a range of trials over time and distance
Measuring individual performance
Agreeing a range of Agility, balance, and coordination (ABC) exercises and measure individual performance
It would be possible but quite demanding to carry out these trials with all groups at the same time. Taking one group each club evening would be more feasible.
Examples of trials
Time to run for one minute (two minutes recovery)
Time to run for two minutes (two minutes recovery)
Time to run for three minutes (two minutes recovery)
Time to run for four minutes (two minutes recovery)
Time to run for five minutes (two minutes recovery)
For older age groups
Time to run for ten minutes (two minutes recovery)
Time taken to run
50m, 80m 100m 150m 200m
For older age groups
100m 200m 400m 800m 1000m
Beam walk (forward)
Beam Walk (backwards)
One leg balance
Low hurdle course (sideways)
Low hurdle course (two footed hop)
Agility course (time taken)
Agility out and back (time taken)
These will include relays, orienteering, team pursuits, pacemakers*
(* Running at a given pace is an essential skill in endurance running. The team is helped to consider the pace that each runner can hold over distance. Then calculate the time for the team to complete the distance in relay. Closest to the estimated time wins).
Our aim is to recognise and celebrate continuing improvement in all our young athletes. We will continue to enhance the performance of those children who demonstrate an aptitude for running and an enthusiasm for competition. We will equip everyone with the basic skills of running efficiently avoiding over training and injury. The emphasis will be on variety and fun.
More work is needed in finalising the details of the trials and how the results are collated. We will need to consider how the results are shared with the individual and the group. Further consideration will be required about how to recognise and reward improvement in running fitness.
The trials will be designed for both the track, park, and trial. More equipment will be required, and this will be purchased by the club.
David Newton March 2021