Helping teachers, parents and coaches organize, promote and manage highly successful running programs for children.



When you see the kids who were on your summer running team showing up for winter runs, you know you are doing something right.

COACH’S TIPS When you are going to do something different with young runners, or even a little difficult, build it up as a big event. Make it something worthy of accomplishing. 



Q.  What are Toe Tokens?


Toe Tokens are the product of Fitness Finders Inc. and are used as incentives in fitness programs in more than 20,000 schools in all 50 states. In 2015, more than 2.5 million children walked or ran in a Mileage Club program using Toe Tokens but that, of course, does not answer what they are. They are little plastic feet in many different colors, each punched with a hole so they can go on a shoe lace or a chain. Kids earn a Toe Token for each five miles they walk or run as part of a participating school’s Mileage Club program. Fitness Finders offers other cool stuff like maps so classrooms can chart their progress on a cross-country trip. Go to for more.

Toe Tokens and Mileage Club are marks of Fitness Finders, Inc.


Q.  How does this program relate to other running programs for kids?


Most children’s running programs are mileage based, offering incentives for each mile or five miles run. Others are built on training runs leading up to a kid’s race or a “graduation” run at the end of the season. Both are very good and have resulted in millions of kids burning calories, improving cardiovascular fitness and building stronger bodies. The CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S RUNNING is not an alternative to these popular programs, but offers a way to make them better. How? By offering teachers and coaches literally hundreds of tested and proven ways to make running much more than just logging miles around cones on a playground. The CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S RUNNING prescription makes each run a new experience; it helps children discover the enjoyment, challenge and success of running and makes them want to come back for more.


Q.  How can we keep kids running after our program ends?


The best way to keep kids running is to create opportunities for them to run. Consider having special, one-day runs scattered throughout the entire year, each designed simply to keep kids excited about running. Have these runs tied to the holidays, changing seasons, and special community or school events. Good possibilities include a destination run, a prediction run, an after-dark “flashlight” run or even jogging as a team in a local parade. Also, encourage the kids to bring their siblings and friends. These runs can be great for recruiting.


Q.  What about parents running with their child? Good or bad?


To see a parent running with his or her young child is gratifying, at least most of the time. It gets even better when the child is laughing, having fun and setting the pace them self.  But it is not so good when the child struggles to keep up, or stops to walk only to have the parent tell them to get tough or gut it out. Fortunately, most are loving parents who only want to help their child enjoy running. Some, however, need to learn how to do that. It starts with running with your child either before, after, or completely separate from when you plan your own run.  Be sure to make the run simple and fun. Maybe just play tag, do an obstacle course or run to the corner store for a cone. 


Q.  Should children compete in road races?


Most governing bodies for school athletics, to prevent injuries, set 3200 meters as the longest distance for middle school track or cross country competitions. Yet children, six, seven and eight years old, are allowed to enter distance runs that are much longer, simply by the parents paying the entry fee. Think of it this way. It takes a young child two or three times as many strides to cover a mile as it does an adult. If a child runs a 5K road race they are churning out nearly as many strides as a fairly good adult runner does in a 10K race or longer. That is a lot of pounding on physically immature joints and cartilage. Let’s error on the safe side and let young children run the Fun Runs and leave the adult races to the adults.


Q.  Kids’ FUN RUNs: Are they good for kids?


FUN RUNs, often a side event to a local road race, can be great fun for kids. Just don’t make too big a deal over it. As for parents running with their child, fine, but only if the child wants you to. Just don’t think you need to be a pacesetter or coach. Run beside your child or even slightly behind, letting the child set the pace. This is their run. Let them enjoy it. If your child has left you in a cloud of dust, your job is done. Just jog to the finish and discreetly step off the course. And be ready to give high-fives, big hugs and whatever else you normally do for a job well done.


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