I have to admit, I’m not one to get super excited over training plans.  I’m more of a let’s go run, and let’s see where we end up or what we do kind of runner.  Running wild and free, without rules, is why I love running.  It’s why my kids love running, too.

But running plans exist for a reason.  They work.

Following a training plan is like brushing your teeth.  Once you get into the habit of doing it regularly–using a plan, that is, in the case of running, you see good results come check-up time–race day.

I’ve scoured the web for training plans for kids, tweens, and teen runners, and I’ve compiled some of these awesome training plan finds, so you don’t have to do the dirty work.  After all, your time is better spent with your feet playing in the dirt on trails alongside your children, instead of spending hours looking for running templates and training formulas for making your kid stronger, faster, and more confident.

The Kids Trail Running Compilation of Awesome, Free Running Training Plans for Kids, Tweens & Teens (and Beginner Runners)

Many of these running plans have running generally in mind and aren’t specific to trail running. However, they are tools that can serve as a guide or base for designing a personal training program that will work for your child–and for you.* Keep in mind that even with a kid-specific training plan, you must take into account a child’s age, fitness, abilities, maturity, development, physician’s and coach recommendations, other non-running specific training, activities or commitments, to make sure it is appropriate for a child.

Trail running is a different beast than off-trail running.  The trail, trail conditions, and weather (including trail exposure and rapidly changing weather) are just some of the factors that you may also need to take into consideration when designing or tackling a training plan or determining whether a generic training template will work for you.

General Plans/Advice:

Sprinting/Speedwork:

  • New York Road Runners (NYRR) features a Track & Field Training Guide for Middle Schoolers.  Don’t be put off by the title.  Even trail runners can benefit from the training in this guide.  Why it looks great:  The guide provides warm up and dynamic training ideas for middle schoolers, and guidance for working on sprinting form and technique.  The guide also provides links to enhance stretching, strength and aerobics, and offers adaptive modifications.

<5K:  

5Ks:

Teens:

Beginner Runners – Not Kids Specific 

While not kid specific, these beginning training plans could be easily modified, or used as is depending on a child’s current fitness or athleticism, and/or used as guidance for a family new to running or getting back into the sport.

>5K Trail Distance

Books:

*Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a certified running coach, so I can’t tell you what training plan will work for your specific child, runner or situation.  I also can’t tell you whether these training plans mentioned above will get you the results you hope to achieve. Consult a physician before beginning a training program.