The most important tip we can give parents about athlete nutrition is to keep your runners HYDRATED. Proper hydration prevents cramping and optimizes athlete performance. Athletes are not encouraged to guzzle water DURING practice. They should bring a water bottle to practice and will be advised to take SIPS. Only water is permitted at COC, please no Gatorade or sugary drinks. Most of your athlete's hydration will need to take place throughout the day, mostly during the school hours. Pack your child extra water for school and encourage them to drink lots during school. Also many fruits and veggies contain a lot of water such as cucumbers, watermelon, celery, iceberg lettuce, even strawberries and apples.
In regards to food, we recommend your child eat something after school or he/she is likely to feel lightheaded during practice. We call it a big snack or "second lunch" and we try to feed it to them by no later than 4 or 4:30pm. The first half of the season your athletes are building muscle so extra protein is a good idea. Some after school snack ideas include:
Foods to stay away from include lots of dairy and citrus as they can upset your child's stomach during a rigorous workout. Give your child at least 1 hour to digest their food before going to practice.
Warriors Track & Field and get 10% off your purchase at Runners Lane. Located at 22959 Soledad Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91350 - near Chi Chi's pizza.
In regards to shoes, many parents have questions about what is best. At this age it is not necessary to spend a lot of money on top of the line shoes. However, here are some guidelines. Make sure your athlete is wearing running shoes (no cross trainers, converse, vans, or other fashion shoes) Focus on a decent pair of running shoes that fit properly and offer good support. Brands like New Balance, Saucony, Asics, Nike and Brooks are typically good quality shoes. You can find them at Runners Lane, Dicks Sporting Goods, and possibly Big 5 or Famous Footwear. Finding the smaller shoe sizes can be a bit tricky as most retailers don't cater to children. If you are finding that these stores don't carry your athlete's size, an option is to get sized and buy the shoe you want online from Amazon or Zappos as they offer free shipping.
Bantams, Midgets, Youth, Intermediate and Young Men/Women are given the option to wear spikes to competition and parts of practice. This is completely optional. In the sprint events spikes can offer an advantage, as they grip the track, give more traction and can help propel an athlete forward faster. However it does take some practice to get used to wearing spikes, it is an additional cost (your child will have their regular training shoes as well as a pair of spikes), and there are rules to what kind of spike shoes are allowed during competition. Please see the next section on SPIKES if you make the decision to purchase spikes for your athlete.
GREMLINS DO NOT WEAR SPIKES. They are for Bantam and older. Spikes can help the athletes foot grip the surface of the track for better traction on starts and in running sprints. Spikes are not always recommended for mid to long distance runs. If you are a long distance runner, please talk to the Coach before considering buying spikes. Take a look at the photo. These are 2 different kinds of spikes that can be screwed into your shoe when you buy "spikes." The dark spikes are called PYRAMID spikes. The silver thin spikes are called 3/16 inch NEEDLE spikes.
PYRAMID spikes -- are used on DIRT tracks ONLY. They typically come with the shoe when you buy them. Because they are wider and longer, they will destroy a rubber track. For DIRT tracks only.
(3/16") NEEDLE spikes -- are used for RUBBER tracks (most of the tracks are rubber, like our track at COC) Needle spikes DO NOT come with your shoe. You must buy them separately. You can find a pack of 3/16 needle spikes at Runners Lane, online, or some other sporting stores like maybe Dicks, or Big 5. Your spikes/shoes will also come with a screw. Use it to remove pyramid spikes and replace with needles for the rubber tracks. IMPORTANT -- PYRAMID spikes will DAMAGE a rubber track. Needle only for COC and other rubber tracks or your athlete may be disqualified.
CARE & USE
Come to the meet with the needles already screwed in. Put spikes in a protective bag. Do not walk around on concrete in your spikes, you will damage the needles, its also unsafe. Off the track always walk in trainers (aka: regular running shoes) When you hear 1st call for your event...Take your track bag/spikes with you and walk to the field for warm up. Always warm up in your trainers. Put on your spikes after warm up before walking over to "seating."
Remember: spikes are ALWAYS optional.
Growth spurts are common for girls starting between the ages of 9-12, and for boys at 11-12 years of age and last well into high school. Rapid growth can cause soreness, for some pain, and downright clumsiness as the hands and feet are typically first to grow and runners have been known to trip over their own feet! Overuse injuries, like sprains and strains, can happen more easily during a growth spurt. The best advice is to encourage your athlete to LISTEN to their body. Of course in the beginning of the season EVERYONE is sore. With experience they will be able to discern between normal pre-season aches versus injury. Although workouts are offered 3-4 times a week, only 2 a week are required (and even that can be waived if your runner is hurt.) If your athlete is experiencing chronic pain please let their coach know right away. A time of rest may be necessary. We've all heard the phrase "no pain, no gain." However, pushing through pain is not always a wise decision as the longer an athlete pushes to ignore an injury the more injured they become, and the longer the recovery period. For more info find article below.
As athletes mature it's only natural for them to begin to take their sport more seriously and with that can come some serious race day jitters. The youth age group marks the TEEN milestone and although your child may have experienced feeling nervous during competition before, it's normal for a teenager to feel emotions with more intensity. Running is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Below you will find an article on ways to help improve your athlete's mental toughness.
Sleep is often overlooked by runners, but it is so important in preventing injury and building muscle. Getting least eight hours of sleep a night is one of the first things to try when a runner experiences problems with injuries or endurance. By staying up too late and not sleeping properly a runner makes it impossible for the body to adequately repair itself. Adolescents need about 8.5- to 9.5 hours of sleep a night. But, as any parent of teenagers will tell you, very few get that. Even if they get to bed on time, most teens find it difficult to fall asleep at a decent hour. Intermediates are now in high school and with active social agendas as well as demands of school it's easy to make a habit of going too bed late. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to poor academic and athletic performance as well as behavioral issues. Hormonal changes can make your child moody as it is, a lack of proper sleep only makes it worse. Click on the article below to read more about the importance of sleep in runners.
We are of the mindset that knowledge is power. Feel free to skim through our small collection of track articles we hope you find helpful. Dont worry, no exam afterwards!