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Teacher’s Guide

There's nothing more gratifying than watching kids fall in love with a sport. Running is an activity that students can perform nearly any time, and any place. Using the P.E. Lesson Plans, you can help kids transform their natural love of running into a measurable skill, by learning about speed, agility and endurance. These lesson plans help your students gain:

  • Core running skills including endurance, good form, and speed
  • Confidence in themselves and in their ability to join with others as part of a team
  • Healthy habits and skills for success in recreational or competitive running, or any other sport they choose

To accompany these lesson plans we have crafted a teachers guide to support the educators using these materials. Please reach out to us with any questions at

Using the Lesson Plans

Lessons Overview

The P.E. Lesson Plans in A Running Start are designed to fit into your physical education curriculum. The Lesson Plans are a series of 10- to 20-minute activities targeting specific running skills. You can use them in a number of different ways:

  • Incorporate them into your existing P.E. curriculum. Since running is an essential part of most sports, these activities are a natural addition to other forms of sports education you have planned
  • Consider doing a unit on running and teaching 2-3 lessons weekly, completing them all in 5-10 weeks.

Each lesson includes:

  • The objective
  • A suggestion about when to do the activity within the context of your class
  • National and New York State standards related to the lesson (more information on standards)
  • The object of the game/activity
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Materials list
  • Cues and performance points for use during the lesson
  • Challenge variations to be used once students have mastered the original lesson

Some activities also have:

  • Coaching Videos from Running Start related to the lesson 
  • Printable teacher and student worksheets
  • Suggested assessments (more information on these below)

Curriculum Progression

Each activity is self-contained and should fit easily into your existing plan. However, we recommend that you look over the plans before teaching them, so that you can take into account the skills that your students may already have.

Depending on the abilities and skill level of your students, we recommend that you start with the sections on Fundamental Athletic Skills and Posture/Attitude. Once your students feel comfortable with these lessons, then they can move on to the Legs & Feet and Arms & Hands sections, to sharpen their running form.

Once students have an understanding of good running form, you can introduce them to Pacing. Younger children are accustomed to short bursts of activity, and it can be challenging for them to learn to pace themselves, so we recommend that you save this section for last.

Video Connection

Are you currently using Running Start's award-winning coaching videos? We developed them with a team of expert youth coaches and exercise physiologists. While these videos are geared to youth running coaches rather than P.E. teachers, the skills are the same.

Many of the P.E. Lessons have corresponding videos that show how to do the activities. Some lessons are a slight variation of the existing video. Others are original activities, but still benefit from videos that demonstrate the basic skills involved. We encourage you to watch the videos because it can be helpful to see a demonstration of the skills or activity you will be teaching. Please keep in mind as you watch that your lesson activities have been customized for your setting, so the instructions might differ slightly.

Feel free to explore the entire library of videos for elementary school (K–4) or read more about the coaching videos.


The activities are designed for minimal equipment, and we also suggest alternatives, in case the required equipment is not available. The emphasis is on movement, and not equipment.

If your school doesn't have a track, you can use chalk or cones to improvise one. Activities have suggested distances, but as the teacher, you have the final word on how far your students can run.

Before starting any activities, please make sure that the area has a relatively level surface, is clearly marked and free of obstacles.

Skills Assessment

Students appreciate being able to mark their progress with specific feedback from you. Some of the activities in the P.E. Lesson plans have a short time frame, and others will be integrated into your larger lesson plans with assessments of their own, so you may not want to do an assessment for every activity. Assessments are always optional, depending on the time available and the point you want to make during the session.

To give your students feedback, use the Skills Assessments Worksheets to evaluate running technique of the arms and hands, legs and feet, overall posture, as well as pacing skills.

Tag Games

Running Start activities include several tag games. Here are some general guidelines for playing tag.

  • In general, tag games should never begin with only one “it.” Start games with two or more students being “it.” Select students to be “it” by shoe type/color, hair style, bracelet type, first letter of name, etc.
  • Tagging needs to be gentle and specific. For example, students should tag on the arms or shoulders.
  • Set a game time limit.
  • Set playing boundaries. If a student runs out of bounds to avoid being tagged, they are considered tagged.
  • If necessary, narrow or shorten the playing area.
  • Create areas that are “safe zones” to allow younger students a time-out from exertion.
  • Students must always have their feet in contact with the ground.
  • Instruct students that they cannot “guard” or protect their flags from being pulled. Slapping hands away from flags is not permitted.
  • Once a student’s flag is pulled, they should never have to sit out of the game. Avoid games that have students sitting out while others are participating. You always want to have students moving for the majority of the PE class period.
  • It is important to not overplay tag games—they are great teasers for students and are effective in short sessions. If you stop play while students are still enjoying it, it creates a buzz for the next time you play.

Adaptive P.E.

Addressing the Needs of All Learners

Today's classrooms are filled with diverse learners who demonstrate a variety of needs and abilities, including students learning the English language, students with disabilities, and gifted/talented students. While diversity is enriching, it also brings challenges, especially in a time when all students are expected to meet rigorous academic as well as performance standards.

For many diverse learners, the key to success is making appropriate “individualized” modifications or adaptations.  These can often be as simple as a subtle reminder to a student or more involved such as physically prompting the student to perform a skill.  Other modifications may involve using visual displays, schedules of events, or changing where we stand when giving instructions.

Implementing inclusion strategies, such as the ones we have included in the PE lesson plans, can provide you with the necessary modifications. However, adaptations, accommodations and modifications help to make ALL students successful, not just students with disabilities.  The key is to address each individuals’ needs.  Often an adaptation for one student may help many others in the class or group improve their skill or understanding of the concept.  By providing individualized modifications, students with disabilities have greater access to the general curriculum and have measurable ways to demonstrate what they have learned.

When working with students with disabilities, remind your students to always use “person first” language.  As the teacher/coach you too should demonstrate language that is acceptable and appropriate.  Remember, the best word to use when addressing a student with a disability is their name!

Many resources are available for teachers/coaches to address individual needs.  One such resource is PE Central:

Youth and Schools

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