Don't wear your kids out.
You must remember that it’s the beginning of their sporting life and not burn them out. I have a development programme to prepare them for the future and achieve their best when they reach adulthood. With what we do, it’s enough to be very competitive. I want them to be motivated and ‘hungry’ when running, not for them to burn out and decide to stop sports when they’re older.
Don't overexhaust them in training.
It depends on their age and what other sports they are doing during the week. For our group session with children aged from six to 15, we have training twice a week and it’s enough. It’s normal for them to be tired after a training session, but they must not be permanently exhausted.
Get them to eat light prior to training – and no dairy.
I advise kids to eat something light like bread with jam before they come to train. Each week, I have children who get stitches when they run. This can happen because they started their run too fast, causing cramps from a lack of oxygen, or from the food and drink they ingested before training.
Runners must avoid dairy products (like Milo) before running; it takes a long time to digest. For dinner, they need to eat carbohydrates (pasta/rice/potatoes) to refuel with protein to repair and grow muscles. Of course vegetables, fruits and yoghurt complete their meal.
Build endurance first.
I always start by building their base in endurance, which is like the foundation for a house. Endurance means an easy but long run; for beginners, it can be a mixture of running and walking until they are able to run non-stop. Children will run for 15 to 40 minutes. When they finish their endurance training, they will do some stretching.
Mix it up with other exercises.
Natural exercises like drills and coordination as well as plyometrics (jumping exercises) develop their strength and make their body stronger, helping them progress much faster in their personal fitness. Plus, they avoid injuries too. It helps them for all sports.
To avoid over training, make sure they get enough sleep.
Kids must avoid over training. They need to sleep early and for a minimum of 10 hours. If a child keeps getting injured, parents should consider why it happens. Over training? Not enough rest or sleep? Bad running form (if it’s while running)? Wearing the wrong or old shoes? I ran for 40 years and I was rarely ever injured – if I was, it was nothing serious.
Keep it fun.
It must stay fun and friendly. I like to keep it relaxed and the first time they come for training, I explain what we’re doing and why we are doing sports, encourage and congratulate them, and always listen to what they have to say. If they are tired or in pain, I tell them to stop and take a rest; if they feel better, then they can start again.