Fuel Up to Play 60 is excited to be partnering with Marathon Kids to create a Fuel Up to Play 60 and Marathon Kids Running Club! Think you can run (or walk) the equivalent of FOUR marathons in a school year? We do! Along the way, build self-confidence and healthy habits to last a lifetime,i and at each marathon milestone, earn exclusive Nike rewards. Let’s go!
i Evaluation of Strategies for Increasing Parent Involvement in Marathon Kids and Pilot Implementation of Marathon Kids In-a-box August 31, 2013. University of Texas School of Public Health.
Walking and running are great forms of exercise and they’re easy — you can fit them in whenever and wherever it works! Not only that, being physically active can help you in school,ii iii and it’s a fun way to spend time with friends or even make some new ones.iv
Research shows that getting kids moving can be game-changing for their health and their learning.v vi vii Whether you run before, during or after school, Marathon Kids makes it easy with a format that is inclusive and adaptable, allowing everyone to set and achieve individual goals.
Every component of the Marathon Kids program is rooted in evidence-based strategies. From social support, group tracking and modeling, to the celebrations and awesome rewards, Marathon Kids is designed to support healthy behavior adoption and long-term behavior change.viii
“Physical activity is one key way to improve health and learning for children. A Marathon Kids running club is a proven way to help children increase their physical activity, learning and health.”
Dr. Bill Kohl, Ph.D.
Professor of Epidemiology and Kinesiology
University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston
School of Public Health | Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living (Learn More)
iiRauner, et. al. Evidence that aerobic fitness is more salient than weight status in predicting standardized math and reading outcomes in fourth- through eighth-grade students. Journal of Pediatrics: 2013 Aug. 163(2):344-8.
iii Raine LB, Lee HK, Saliba BJ, Chaddock-Heyman L, Hillman CH, et al. (2013). The Influence of Childhood Aerobic Fitness on Learning and Memory. PLoS ONE 8(9): e72666.
ivElementary Teacher’s Marathon Madness. Marathon Kid success story.
v Rauner, et. al. Evidence that aerobic fitness is more salient than weight status in predicting standardized math and reading outcomes in fourth- through eighth-grade students. Journal of Pediatrics: 2013 Aug. 163(2):344-8.
vi Raine LB, Lee HK, Saliba BJ, Chaddock-Heyman L, Hillman CH, et al. (2013). The Influence of Childhood Aerobic Fitness on Learning and Memory. PLoS ONE 8(9): e72666.
vii Designed To Move – Full Report. Nike (2012).
viii Evaluation of Strategies for Increasing Parent Involvement in Marathon Kids and Pilot Implementation of Marathon Kids In-a-box August 31, 2013. University of Texas School of Public Health.
Huddle up with your principal so he or she can give your club a thumbs-up and help you choose running routes, approve a Kickoff assembly, track student miles, reward progress and more.
You should also include the Program Advisor, teachers or other adult volunteers to lead and manage the club and keep track of student miles. A head coach and at least four adult volunteers are recommended. Download your Pre-Registration Packet and get a leg up on every aspect of your game plan. Encourage all students — and parents or caregivers — to participate! Recruit the whole school — everyone can be a “Marathon Kid!”
Get started by visiting www.marathonkids.org. By registering, you’ll gain access to the support, materials and resources needed to bring Marathon Kids to your school. Coaches will have access to webinars and forums to talk things over with other coaches. Note that the full program is fee-based, so you’ll need to consider funding options (see below) before deciding whether to complete the registration right away. Either way, you can make a running club work at your school.
Find the time. With your team, determine the best schedule for your running club. It may be before or after school, between classes, during recess, at breakfast or lunch, or during PE. Marathon Kids running club sessions might need to be different for different grade levels and classrooms — that’s okay! Get creative and decide what will work best for your students and your school. Your club can even find ways to get in some miles away from school, too!
Identify your route(s). Scout out potential running/walking routes in and around the school and calculate the distances. Plan to use cones or other markers so the path is easily identifiable. Make a plan for what to do on bad weather days and make at least one route inside the school.
Fund your program. Schools can have a running/walking club without an official tie to Marathon Kids, but if they do choose to participate, the benefits of this walking and running club are proven and consistent. Consider whether you are ready to self-fund the official Marathon Kids program, which is $15 per participant. This would include incentives like t-shirts, tracking forms, coaching materials and more, which, if your school decides to self-fund, have been shown to bolster participation and consistency.ix
If you’d like to start the full Marathon Kids program at your school but need some funds to get going, your school may be eligible for Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60. Be sure your school is registered with Active Schools and work with your Marathon Kids contact (once you’ve established your team) to see if you qualify. There are also fundraising tips in the Marathon Kids Fundraising Guide.
ix Evaluation of Strategies for Increasing Parent Involvement in Marathon Kids and Pilot Implementation of Marathon Kids In-a-box August 31, 2013. University of Texas School of Public Health.
Host an enthusiastic and energy-filled introductory Kickoff event to launch your Marathon Kids running club. The support and encouragement students receive at the Kickoff will motivate them throughout the season.
Make posters or flyers telling people about the club, too. The more people who know about your club, the better!
Recruit your club members and get them motivated. Use the Marathon Kids recruitment page you set up when you join to recruit students and community members who want to join the club. Send home this Parent FAQ that explains the program and the incentives involved. Invite parents to sign the Parent Pledge, committing to support their children to be physically active, eat healthier and limit screen time and sedentary activities.
Think long-term and sustainable. Establish an ongoing system of communication with parents of your club runners. Ongoing communication has been shown to increase both student tracking and parental support of other forms of exercise.x
x Evaluation of Strategies for Increasing Parent Involvement in Marathon Kids and Pilot Implementation of Marathon Kids In-a-box August 31, 2013. University of Texas School of Public Health.
Set goals. In this Play, running (or walking) the equivalent of four marathons (104.8 miles) is the goal. It sounds big, but remember, if students log just over three miles each week, most can reach 104.8 miles in one school year.
Track your progress. As students complete each quarter mile, they track it on their log sheet. It’s a great way to keep an eye on the long-term goal while being able to pace themselves over time. When your club is out running, you can use mini mileage logs, Popsicle sticks or markers to track individual laps. Make tracking fun and a team effort by using bulletin boards in each classroom or in your school hallway to mark each student’s progress.
Build opportunities for student leadership. There are lots of ways students can take on leadership roles in this Play. Different students can lead stretching or warm-up laps based on the Session Cards. Students can also help plan new routes or new runs. Some students can even get involved in seeking out funding for the program, like this student in Swanzey, NH, who earned two different grants for his school!
Be sure to find ways to include all students, regardless of their current fitness levels, disabilities or other challenges that might present barriers. One way to do this is to give students running buddies. When students reach their goals, they can become cheerleaders and running pals for others still on their way. With just a bit of creativity, there are ways to make sure everyone is included!
Safety first! Marathon Kids provides tons of resources to help with participant safety, including flyers on running form, cold weather tips and warm-up and cool-down activities. Be sure to pay attention to healthy practices and stay hydrated during running club activities. Remember to practice safety for all. Be sure to run or walk in groups and only during daylight hours, and keep to the designated route.
Spread the Word
Make posters or flyers to tell people in your school and community about your club. Get the word out on your school’s website, blog or in your school’s eNewsletter. You can also promote your club during morning announcements.
Post markers (like paper feet, stars or football cleats) in the gym or cafeteria to keep track of — and share with your school — how far your club members go throughout the year. Marathon Kids has some fun information on how this program can benefit kids in geography, language arts, math and even college planning!
Celebrate success. Every Marathon Kids running club concludes its season with a Finisher Celebration. This is a chance to celebrate and honor everybody’s achievement. Students who reached their fourth marathon will receive their final rewards, and everyone will get a Finisher Certificate that acknowledges the distances they ran. Tally the collective total mileage of all your students during the school year to announce at your event. Invite families, school board members and elected officials, and even local celebrities to attend the celebrations.
This section has ideas on ways to involve everyone in your school and community. Think about friendly competitions, ideas on how to include students and adults or ways to bring in the family connection.
Marathon Kids runners are leaders in their schools, and Marathon Kids running clubs are catalysts for change. Parents and teachers can run too, modeling healthy behavior. Older students can help out as junior coaches or volunteers. The more folks are involved, the better the club will be.
Create mini-challenges for each of the four marathon goals. For example, if you’re close enough, have groups within your club try to walk or run the distance from your school to your local NFL team’s home stadium in time for a home game! Hold friendly competitions between students or small groups of students to reach goals on their Mileage and Fuel Logs. See how many parents you can get to join the club and have them compete with their kids to see who can be the most consistent from week to week!
- Mark off running routes in and around your school
- Create and share materials like posters and announcements to build community awareness
- Encourage friends and classmates to join Marathon Kids
- Provide parents with information about Marathon Kids
- Distribute posters and flyers to local businesses. This builds awareness and adds to students’ 104.8-mile goals.
Regular Volunteers Can
- Pace: run/walk with the club and set the pace for the day
- Cheerlead: monitor the course and motivate runners
- Mileage Track: help runners keep track of their distances for the day
- Safety Monitor: encourage participants to hydrate, take breaks and recover
- Photography: take pictures and video to share with parents and with Marathon Kids!
Homefield Advantage provides useful, practical ways for parents and family members to get involved in making this Play a success — in school and at home! Click here for a printable sheet that is ideal for students to take home and share!
This Play may help you meet the goals of USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge!
Just getting started? Here is something you can do before jumping into the full Play. Let this idea get you warmed up so you’re ready to tackle the full Play!
Start with a walking/running club where students set their own goals for distance. Hold the club 2-3 times a week before or after school, and celebrate student successes as they build their confidence and their mileage. Before you know it, you may have your first marathoner — and then you’re “off and running” with the full Play!
Funding and Outfitting Your Play
What might help?
- Registering students in Marathon Kids (Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60 available to support this — click here for more information)
- Items to create a walking or running trail, such as paint, signs, cones
- White board/bulletin board to track participants’ progress and post their Mileage Logs and Fuel Logs
- Pedometers (optional)
- Water bottles
Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60
Up to $4,000 per year is available to qualified K-12 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 to kickstart healthy changes!