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The following program is designed for beginner to moderate level youth runners, ages 8-18. The levels are grade-based and offer a RANGE of options for athletes. The World Runners United Junior Training Program is research-based and appropriate for boys and girls of average health and capability, regardless of prior experiences. Like all training programs, the progress of each athlete will be different and depend on many factors, such as consistency, persistency, effort, environmental factors, injury prevention and flexibility, nutrition, rest, hydration, family support, training venues and more. Our program has been the stable of thousands of successful youth athletes over the past two decades, most coming to the sport of running with no prior experience. The WRU Junior Program is a 15 week ramp up based on the average youth “season” for USATF, AAU and other league-based national programs culminating in a National Championship.


Everyone is a runner. “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” -John Bingham, marathon runner

Every runner, beginner to elite, must choose the best approach to training for their body, mind, and soul. Often, you will see two runners with almost exact performance data, yet who train in tremendously different ways. Choice matters. Listening to your body matters. We design our programs to offer choice in the form of distance and interval (frequency and target performance) ranges. Your should choose the best combination for you. Knowing what works best for you is often achieved by starting at the lower end of the range and keeping a journal of the during and after feelings and impact. WRU will offer zoom meetings to offer insight into this approach to choices. Running more or running faster DOES NOT always lead to improvements. Often, especially with youth athletes, less is better. 



Extra Miles: Total number of miles per week IN ADDITION TO Interval training days. Our program offers a RANGE for athletes and families to choose, based on each athlete’s ability and commitment.  # of Days refers to the number of running days per week for which the “Extra Miles” should be spread across for safer development.

Challenge Workout: An interval workout designed to supplement endurance building with speed acquisition.

Interval: A set distance of running designed for repeats during a workout.

Sprint(s): Burst of speed approaching maximum effort, often based on an athlete’s percentage of full ability.

Fly Sprints: Full Sprint, typically between 10 and 70 meters

M: Meters

Farlek: A running workout that involves random changes in speed and intensity over a period of time. 

Rest What You Run: Refers to recovery time that is equal to the time it took to complete the interval (not distance). AKA=Equal Rest

LSD (Long Slow Distance): Although training programs have moved away from LSD as being a staple for training, it still serves as an opportunity to ensure runners enjoy a slower-paced run for recovery purposes. This can also be described as “conversation pace” where runners run long distances slow enough where they should be able to maintain a conversation while running, AKA easy day. 

Opportunity to Learn: Interval or speed training serves as a wonderful opportunity for young athletes to test and learn about their limits, as they boost their aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels. Interval training is safe and sound when utilized in a conservative to moderate manner with athletes 12 and under. With each interval, young athletes begin to understand how they can “change gears” and reach new levels of peak performance.  Also, interval training creates important “muscle memory” where athletes begin to program their minds and muscles to be in synch with each other. Eventually, when an athlete masters a pace, they will begin to realize their readiness to run faster. 


IMPORTANT: WRU highly recommends that youth athletes do not exceed a maximum of TWO (2) interval days per week. In fact, athletes 8 and under can benefit from one session per week and additional easy running days. 


Here is a resource to use when planning and executing interval training.

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