How To Prepare For Your School Cross Country

Kids Running Lindfield

At some time in their primary school career, your child will be expected to enter their school cross country. It can be a traumatic event for some kids, whilst others can’t wait till they’re old enough to get amongst it!

Make sure the experience is a great one for your kids, which will leave them wanting to do more. Use these tips on how to prepare for your school cross country.

  • Start to talk to them about the cross country in very general terms. Simply looking over the school calendar for the term and happening to notice when the cross country is on, is enough just to plant the seed initially.
  • Do some exercise yourself. Make exercise just something that your family does, not a big deal
  • Get your child familiar with the course of their school cross country. If you don’t know where they run, ask the school, or ask us. We know a lot of the courses used by local schools. Walk over the course with your child so that they know what to expect.
  • If you can’t go over the actual course, get your child to at least walk over the distance of the race. Don’t say something like, “it’s like running from here to the shops and back”. That can seem an awfully long way to kids. Much better to travel over the distance on foot with them.
  • If they are happy to do some training, go for a run with them, or get them running with friends. Try to get them to run slowly with you. Most kids will take off at the rate of knots and be puffed out after a couple of hundred metres. You don’t want this to happen on the day of the event. They will definitely go too fast at the start of their school cross country if they don’t practice running slowly before hand. Try to teach them ‘Jogging’ pace, or ‘No Puffing’ pace. They’ll still go too hard, but it should pull them back a bit.
  • Practice racing. Nothing makes you better at something than practice. Even if they don’t practice in a formal situation, get them racing against you or against their brothers and sisters, or friends. Remind them to slow down at the start so they have enough puff left at the end.
  • Whilst your child will feel great about themselves if they run the whole distance without stopping, try not to let them get so worked up about the event that they see themselves as a failure if they don’t make the distance.
  • Prepare them for what to do if they do feel too puffed to continue. Walking for even 20 metres can be just enough time to recover and pick up to a jogging pace again. Make sure they know this is ok.

Some kids take naturally to distance running, and absolutely love it from the start.  If your kid’s one of those, here’s a few tips.

  • Go in fun runs with them
  • Time them doing laps around the local oval
  • Emphasise the fun aspect of running
  • Let them decide how much running they want to do. Don’t force them to train if they don’t want to, but do use gentle reminders and encouragement.
  • Practice cross country racing, even if in an informal setting.
  • Do some running with them, or organise for them to train with friends
  • Encourage your child not to be too outcome focused. Placing well in a cross country race is awesome, and your child should be proud of themselves. Remember to acknowledge the effort as well as the achievement though.  At some point, every child, no matter how good they are, will be beaten, and if it’s been all about performance from the start, it can be terribly deflating, especially for those who are a bit fragile. Looking in the mirror and honestly being able to say you’ve done your best can go a long way to easing the disappointment

Awesome Kids Running Training Groups run on weekday afternoons on Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches. Find out more

Cross Country Races run on Sundays in February and March. More info

Kids Stretching: Free Workshop

stretching thumbnailWhat’s the latest on stretching for kids? When should your kids stretch? When shouldn’t they? Does it really matter? Will stretching improve their performance, their posture, their disposition?




Hooked on Health and activeanatomy physiotherapy are presenting a FREE workshop for kids to learn all about the importance of stretching to improve their performance in running and other sporting activities, reduce their chance of injury, and improve their movement technique

Your child will learn how to perform the important stretches, how these stretches help in sporting activities, plus some basic anatomy to help them understand which part of the body is being stretched.

This is a practical workshop for kids. Parents are encouraged to join in if they wish.

Plus… we’ll give you the basics of  planning your child’s training.

We’ll also be briefly covering the basics of forming a training programme for your child leading up to important events such as Cross Country and Athletic Carnivals

Forestville Community Hall, next to Forestville RSL Club, Melwood Ave, Forestville
Fri, 12th April
6 – 7pm

Bookings are essential. Registration should be completed  by Monday April 8th



About the Presenters

Merrin Martin

Owner of activeanatomy physiotherapy and health professional workshops, Merrin is an experienced physiotherapist, exercise scientist and qualified pilates instructor. Merrin is an APA, ESSA and Sports Physiotherapy member and is considered an expert in her role as a health educator, lecturer and developer of specific exercise programs. Merrin has extensive lecturing experience within the health industry and is regarded as an expert in her role as educator in specific exercise programs & managing injuries. Merrin’s premises are located in the Village Pilates Studio in Belrose.


Richard Sarkies

Co-founder of Hooked on Health, Richard has been running and coaching others in the sport he loves for over 30 years. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement), has over seven years experience in lecturing in health and fitness at TAFE NSW and is a qualified personal trainer with a particular interest in children’s running. Richard conducts kids running training groups and cross country races across Sydney’s north shore and northern beaches area.







Kids Running: HOH Kids Feature in School Cross Country


The first term of Hooked on Health’s kids’ running training group, HOH Athletics, has been a great success. With 16 regulars training at Melwood Oval on Tuesday afternoons, there was always plenty of action. Ranging in age from 7 to 12, the kids all benefitted from the great coaching and motivation provided by Kids Athletics Coach Richard Sarkies.


The focus for term I was cross country training, as most schools held their cross countries at the end of last term, or will hold them early this term. The representative season starts with the local primary school sports association zone carnival on 11th May at Lionel Watts Reserve.


All HOH Athletics kids achieved outstanding results in the cross countries. The results were:


Will Barry: 4th, U/8, St Josephs, Nbeen

Jacob Wander, 12th, U/8, Wakehurst Public

Lizzy McMillen, 1st, U/8,Forestville Public

Eva Strachan, 21st, U/11,Forestville Public

Emma O’Reilly, 1st, U/10, Belrose Public

Genevieve O’Brien, 4th, U/9 OLGC

Harrison O’Brien, 5th, U/8, OLGC

Olivia Thomson, 4th, U/8, OLGC

Flynn Stapleton, 4th, U/10, Belrose Public

Jordan Casey, 4th, U/8, Wakehurst Public

Cameron Lesurf, 8th, U/8 and U9, Mimosa Public (3rd U8 home)

Abbey McMillen, 1st, U/11,Forestville Public

Will Keir, 1st, U/13, Killarney High

Wilson Sarkies, 3rd, U/8 and U9, Mimosa Public (1st U8 home)

Tom Irwin, 2nd, U/10, Mimosa Public


In term two we will initially be focusing on the cross country and longer distances, adding in the shorter distances as the term progresses towards the school Athletics Carnivals.

Registrations are now open for term II running training.


Friday Arvo Races As an extension to our Tuesday Athletics Training, and seeing how much kids love running races, we have  ‘FRIDAY ARVO RACES’ at Lionel Watts Reserve Frencsh Forest, on, well, Friday of course! It’s open to ALL AGES and LEVELS, and the idea is for the kids to have a few races over various distances and try to improve their OWN times. Of course they’ll all be trying to beat each other as well. It will  be a great way of getting ready for their Athletics Carnival.


Find more information about our kids running groups, or register for a free trial now.


Like to comment on these great results, or add your own kids results? Please add to the comments below.