2. Set Up

You have taken the bold step to enrich the lives of your students by coaching them in a Young Runners program. Welcome! We want to make your program preparation as smooth as possible. In our experience, thorough preparation leads to engaged students, inspired coaches, enthusiastic administrators, and successful programs.

Basic Essentials

For both new and returning coaches, there are three basic essentials that happen at the start of each school year. These are:

  • Application: Complete the Young Runners online program application. (View a short STRIDES video: Getting Started: Applying for a Program)
  • Terms of Agreement (TOA): The primary coach and principal must electronically sign the TOA as part of the application.
  • Training: All coaches must attend training at the start of each school year. NYRR will contact you with details about the training session.

Choosing Session Locations

As you explore options for your Young Runners sessions, keep these key considerations in mind:

  • Practice Frequency: Plan to practice at least twice a week for at least one hour per session. Your team must participate for at least two eight-week seasons during the school year.
  • Weather Watch: Have at least two outdoor sites and one indoor site so that your Young Runners can adapt to different running surfaces and have a place to practice in any weather
  • Plan Ahead: Choose and confirm your practice locations ahead of time, in case you need advance permission to use a site
  • Pre-Practice: Before bringing your Young Runners, visit the site on the day and time at which you plan to hold practices. An empty track one day might be filled with athletes on your chosen day. You can also check for potential threats to safety, inspect running surfaces, and confirm distances using the measuring device in your kit
  • Potential Sites: Let your creativity be your guide. Young Runners are currently running in schoolyards; on sidewalks; through parks on tracks or dirt trails; in gymnasiums; and in school hallways and stairways
  • View our STRIDES video tutorial: Site and Program Details

Encouraging Participation

Your Young Runners team will include both student runners and adult volunteers. You should strive to have a team with 10 or more students who attend sessions regularly.  Sharing your excitement will help you build your team. Here are some strategies that are working for other Young Runners coaches:

  • Post flyers around school, and encourage students to join
  • Invite kids to an after-school meeting, where you can tell them about the benefits of running, show them awards they can earn as Young Runners, and answer their questions about the program
  • Discuss the program at school assemblies or meetings, keeping in mind the parts of the program that will appeal to the people you are talking to
  • If you are a returning site, have a "bring a friend to practice day"
  • Ask teachers to refer their students and share with them the benefits of running, ie, improved attention in class, learning to set fitness goals, and how good students feel when they make physical activity part of their day
  • Make announcements over the school PA system
  • If you already have a Young Runners program, invite students to sessions so they can visualize their own participation
  • Hold information sessions for parents to give them an understanding of program benefits and respond to questions or concerns
  • Encourage parents to actively participate by helping with practices and events, or serving as cheerleaders for their kids and all the Young Runners

Planning Effectively

As someone who works with young people, you know that change is constant. Putting together a plan before your season begins helps you and your team to navigate change when it happens. Having a plan instills self-confidence, and inspires respect from your students and volunteers. Check out these planning resources:

  • Workout ideas: This PDF includes four model workouts and a 12-week workout program
  • A Running Start: This award-winning series of youth coaching videos includes form drills, games, strength training, stretching, and other tips.

Being Constant

As you explore our coaching resources, consider the needs and skill levels of your Young Runners, so you can make adjustments where needed. One thing we believe all children have in common is the need for constancy in their teachers. They are counting on you to have a plan, and we are devoted to making that possible! When students know they can depend on you to never cancel practice and always start on time, they can relax and focus on running. Be firm. Make sure your team practices at least two to three times each week. When change happens, have a back-up plan in place, whether it’s other teachers who can help or adult volunteers who can step in to keep your program running smoothly. Once your plan is in place, all of you can relax, start running —and have fun!


STRIDES is the name of NYRR's online management platform. It's used to track the students' attendance and progress in Young Runners.

User Guide

We have created a Quick Start Guide to help you set up your STRIDES account, create a schedule, add students, record attendance, and other common tasks. Please download it and keep it handy for reference:

Young Runners STRIDES User Guide [PDF]

Your First Visit to STRIDES

Review your profile upon first signing in. Make sure the correct contact information and school address is listed so you receive all materials and incentives promptly.

You can also invite assistant coaches and other program staff to create STRIDES accounts.

View a helpful STRIDES video tutorial: Add/Reenroll Staff

Create a Schedule

One of your first tasks with STRIDES is to input your schedule. You need the schedule in order to track your athletes' attendance.

View a helpful STRIDES video tutorial: Set up Practice Schedule

Add Students to STRIDES

You also need to create a record for every student in your Young Runners program. Ensure that you collect the Participant Release forms as soon as possible as you will need parent/guardian contact information to complete the process.

View a helpful STRIDES video tutorials: Add New Students and Edit/Delete Students

Detailed instructions on all these functions can be found in the STRIDES User Guide.


  • 1. Getting Started

    Welcome to Young Runners--read on to see what's coming in your start-up kit to kick off a great year of running!

  • 3. Program Maintenance

    A coach is the heart of each Young Runners team. Read on to ensure student success by managing your team well. 

Youth and Schools