How to Start an After-School Running Program

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How to Start an After-School Running Program

By Catherine Morris

Wondering how to start an after-school program that kids will love? If you’re seeking something to get kids of any age moving and engaged, an after-school running program will empower them to set goals and reach for them one step at a time.

After a long day at school, kids of all ages need a brain break. This is doubly true for kids whose school day includes lots of sitting and desk time. Most kids don’t get enough active time, which is a major factor in the rising youth inactivity trend.

Physical activity is proven to boost kids’ mood, confidence and academic performance—all while improving their physical health. An after-school running and walking program is a great way to inspire kids to find their inner athlete as they take their first steps toward a healthier future.

The Marathon Kids program encourages kids to run a full marathon, one step and one mile at a time. This research-proven approach emphasizes goal-setting, which helps kids build a growth mindset—something they can apply to all areas of life. Running or walking together also helps kids develop friendship and empathy as they encourage each other to push further than they thought possible.

Here are some tips for starting your after-school running program and empowering kids to build a foundation for a healthier life.


Keep it flexible!

When it comes to physical activity, kids need to move their bodies in any way that feels natural and fun. Running, walking—even skipping or dancing can count, as long as they’re moving. An inclusive program is perfect for a group of kids of varying ages and abilities. Every kid can develop confidence as they work toward their personal best. Here are some tips on coaching kids in arunning program.

Determine your route, with a focus on safety and accessibility.

Wherever your after-school program is located, there’s a walking and running route just waiting to be used. It might be indoors or outdoors, snaking through hallways or around the perimeter of a field. You might need to mow a path through grass so the way is clear. An out-and-back route is great, and a loop is even better so every kid can keep moving at their own pace. Measure your route and use Marathon Kids Connect to make tracking distances or active minutes a breeze.

Use the buddy system, to encourage kids to motivate each other.

Self-motivation is a key element of running and of the Marathon Kids program, but there’s a lot of power in kids encouraging each other to keep going when the going gets tough. Pairing kids up on the track allows them to socialize while they move. This makes running more fun and kids more likely to go the distance.

Utilize free tools provided by Marathon Kids to track and celebrate kids’ progress.

When kids can see and celebrate their progress, they feel pride. When their effort is recognized and rewarded, it boosts their determination to challenge themselves to strive toward new goals. Marathon Kids Connect is a free, cloud-based platform that makes it easy and fun to track and report on kids’ active time. This makes the administrative side of your after-school running program a breeze.

Model building a growth mindset in a nurturing and supportive environment.

Where can you find a great running coach? Out on the track with all the other runners. When kids see grown-ups setting goals and working to reach them, they learn the power of consistent effort. Goal-setting and steady progress empower kids to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Are you ready to coach an after-school run club? Marathon Kids provides support, free tools and resources, and tons of tips and info for coaching kids in running. Learn more about becoming a Marathon Kids coach today!


Become a Marathon Kids Coach Today!