How much running is too much for the Harriers?

This last weekend we went hiking and my youngest daughter Kate wore her 2013 Junior Olympic Association t-shirt.  The shirt had on the back of it all of the names from our cross-country team that ran in the Junior Olympics that year.  We had six athletes and of those six, 50% were my children.  We did have seventy kids turn out for cross-country that season but of that, only six went onto run in the Junior Olympics and in that meet only one went onto qualify for Regionals in Oregon.  To put things in perspective, last year we sent fifteen kids to nationals in Alabama.

Not only did we only send six athletes to the first Junior Olympic meet, our kids were demolished from the kids from Spokane.  This was 100% my fault as coach because I had spent all season preparing our kids to run the mile which is the distance for all the local cross-country meets in Yakima.  When they get to the Junior Olympics, the distance goes from 2k up to 4k so our kids did not have the endurance or experience to compete at this level.

Driving home from Spokane that fall in 2013, Aleah and I were flabbergasted at how two state-champion high school runners could have kids that did so poor in a cross-country meet like this.  What we failed to realize at that time was what allowed both of us to be state champions in high school was the years of hard work and discipline that was started back in middle school. Our kids did exactly as one would expect after eight weeks of training in a sport that they had never competed before in their lives.

We are very excited to be entering our fifth cross-country season September 11th. The great news for you is your coaches have four years of experience to look back upon in coaching and training of what has worked and what has not worked training kids ages 5-14 in cross-country. I want to write on one lesson we learned last year that we will be applying this year of cross-country: no two-workouts in one day!

In 2013, our kids did not practice enough.  Last year in 2016 we had multiple kids come down with injuries because of over-training. The overtraining did not happen at cross-country practice that Casey, Aleah and myself run, but it happened outside of practice.  I have two primary examples:

  1. Mileage Club—My wife and I are huge fans of the local mileage clubs in elementary and middle school in Yakima.  The downside though is kids 14&under are not prepared to run 2-4 miles at lunch and then five hours later come to cross-country practice and do a hard workout.  If he/she does this, eventually after a few weeks their bodies start to break down. So what are you to do if your child runs and loves mileage club?  You have two options. The first option is on days when we have cross-country practice is to have your child “walk” during mileage club.  Walking is always a great cross-training and is very low impact so if they walk during mileage club, they should have not problem doing the workout that afternoon.  The second option for the child that insists on running in mileage club AND practicing with Sun City in the evening is to practice in the Orange group.  The Orange group coached by Coach Aleah is for beginning runners.  It has a lot of rest and because these practices seldom go over two miles in a practice it would be okay for your young runner to double-up in this way.
  2. Middle School Runners—The second area that we have seen injuries and burnout is with our middle-school runners. This is the first year, we have changed our registration to just have a “Middle-School” option on sign up. We are assuming athletes like my two oldest daughters will run the entire middle-school season with their schools and then transition to Sun City once their season is over mid-October.  My 14-year-old is insisting on still coming to practices with Sun City because she feels her school won’t run her far and fast enough (which she is probably right).  However, when one doubles up on workouts the young harrier enters the “danger-zone” of injury. What we are doing with Kara this year is she will run Mondays with Sun City since her middle-school doesn’t practice this day.  Also on Wednesdays and Fridays when she does practice with her middle school, we have made it really clear she can only do drills, the game, and help coach the Orange group.

If your young athlete falls into one of these two groups and you have questions, please talk to coaches Casey, Aleah or myself to make sure your young harrier’s health is good.

Looking forward to the first practice of the year on September 11th.  Enjoy your summer!

Coach Erik

Preseason is here for 2017 Sun City Track and Field Team

Congratulations on making it to the weekend Sun City Harriers and their parents. The snow is quickly melting almost as fast as our Harriers. In a little more than two weeks our pre-season fitness program is starting at Franklin Park. Coach Casey has written a month’s worth of workouts, I’ve seen them and they are fantastic for any sprinters, distance runners, or throwers who need some core strength and explosiveness!

Here is the rundown on preseason:

1. Do I need to pre-register? Nope. Just show up for practice the first day but you may not leave your child UNTIL you sign a waiver and pay ($40 for the month of 5 weeks with a discount of $10 for each child if you have multiple kids in your family. If you have a family of four, the fourth child is only $10.)

2. What age group can do the pre-season? Ages 9-14 unless your child has previously run in a Junior Olympic race. This is because we are starting mid-stream and a child must either be more mature or had a full season of running with the Harriers.

3. Who is this geared toward? Athletes who want to eventually run in the Junior Olympic series in the post-season.

4. What is a typical day of the preseason going to look like? There will be lots of drills to help us with our muscle memory, basic aerobic fitness, core work to strengthen our backs and core, and some good stretching.

5. Will it be fun? Running is always fun especially when we come together as a team, throw in some popsicles afterwards, and some fun games like the “Shuttle Relays.”

6. What is the role of parents? They can either drop their child off to run errands (as long as their kids don’t run off in the wrong direction), they can walk around the park and exercise while we coach, or they can work out with the rest of the team (strongly encouraged to get in better shape themselves).

7. How long is the pre-season? Five weeks from February 27th to March 29th before we take a month off before the regular season.

8. What is between the pre-season and regular season? The coaches will be hosting Saturday runs in Cowiche Canyon and writing suggestive workouts, posting them on Facebook.

First practice is February 27th at 5pm at Franklin Park. We will meet at the pavilion next to the big toy. As always, call or text me at 941-5191, IM me on Facebook, or post questions to this thread if you have any.

Coach Erik

2017 Track Season Schedule

Sun City kids do drills at a practice in 2016. Drills and core work will be a key component of the pre-season in 2017.

I’ve figured out how to make all of this snow go away here in Yakima . . . start thinking about track! I was joking with a Sun City parent the other day at church that it started snowing the day after we left for cross-country nationals December 8th and the snow & ice hasn’t left yet.  Coaches Casey, Aleah and I always strive to improve year over year and as we go into our third year of track this is no different.  Here is the upcoming schedule for this track season:


Pre-season will run & drill (pun intended) from February 27th – March 29th.  (Cost is $40 per child)

Pre-season is geared toward runners ages 9-14 or if your child has previously done Junior Olympics in either track or cross-country before.  We will be doing the preseason at Franklin Park Monday and Wednesday nights from 5-6pm for this month.

If your child has never done track before this is NOT the time to start track.  We use this pre-season to build on what we have previously done in other Sun City seasons.

This one-month season will be very heavy on drills, strength-work, and basic speed drills which will be geared toward all track athletes whether one plans on doing sprints, throws, or distances. The reason for the 9-14 year window is we want to keep everyone in one large group.  It is also because most older kids need a little more to get into shape compared to younger kids come track season.


April will be off but we will be having informal Saturday runs for anyone interested at the upper parking lot at Cowiche Canyon every Saturday morning at 9am. There will be no cost for this but there is a high probability of free popsicles after practice. Coaches Casey and I will also posting workouts this month for anyone wanting to get in some pre-track workouts.

Regular Season

Regular track season will be from April 24th- May 20th. This is what we are gearing up for EVERYONE. This season we will be able to offer both sprints, distances, throws, and long jump. Practices will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6-7pm.  Wednesday will be the only day sprints and long jump will be offered since we are short coaches in these events. Monday and Friday will be distance only practice.  We are still waiting on formalizing where we are going to practice but more than likely it will be Franklin Track. The cost for the regular season will be $40 with a $10 discount for each child in the family down to $20. We will have a home meet this year on May 20th at one of the local schools and this will finish up the regular season.  A Sun City t-shirt will be included in the registration fee.


Post-season for track will run from May 22nd-July 9th.  There are a number of track meets we will be attending this year which will be:

  1. Portland Track Festival June 3rd-4th
  2. Seattle on June 11th
  3. Junior Olympic Association Finals in Tri Cities June 24th
  4. Junior Olympic Regionals in Spokane July 8th-10th (different events are on different dates depending on the athlete, most kids only compete one or two days)
  5. Junior Olympic Nations is in Lawrence Kansas this year July 27th-30th (the Mickelson family will be going to this as long as one of our kids qualifies for it since our kids are at the top of their age groups this year)

Cost—The cost for the post-season is $75 per athlete and includes a black Sun City racing singlet.  If you have one of these from previous seasons you may take off $10.  We are not sure how many coaches we will have for the post-season.  We will for sure have distance coaches and be able to coach sprints one day a week. After this, it will depend on turnout, volunteers, and participation.


For new families who have not been part of Sun City in the past, we are a very Facebook heavy group of coaches and parents.  The best place to post your questions is on Facebook so everyone can see your questions and our answers.  You can always IM (instant message) me (Erik) or even call or text my cell (941-5191).  Looking forward to a great 2017 track season.  We will start posting every week or so going forward getting ready for the season.

Coaches Erik, Casey, and Aleah

PS In the coming months we are excited to announce a volunteer throws coach who has multiple state titles and competed for a major division 1 school back in the day . . . stay tuned!

Can’t wait to see what it is going to be like in 2017!

Welcome to the Extended Season

Welcome to the extended season, Sun City Harriers! This post is meant for the “newbies” who have never gone to Junior Olympics Regionals before. I’m a “why” person so please read to the end but I will do my best to explain the “why” behind what we are doing.

Up to this point in our training, we have been working on building a “base” for our Harriers. This is essentially a base level of fitness on which to build the next phase of our training. Over the next four weeks, we will add more anaerobic training (higher intensity training) while continuing to work on general fitness. In the final 2 weeks before Regionals, we will shorten the training and focus on building speed.

Our goal for the extended season is first and foremost for the Harriers to have fun. If we miss this goal, it doesn’t matter how fast we run. Next to having fun, we would like the Harriers to learn the discipline of training and racing well.

The regular season provides an opportunity for all athletes to try out the sport of cross country. The extended season is likewise the perfect setting for young aspiring athletes to learn how to seriously compete. So here is our post-season schedule:

1. October 29th – Rain City Invitational at Seattle’s Woodland Park. This meet was wasn’t originally on our schedule but we decided to add it to give our Harriers another opportunity to race the Junior Olympic distance (2k, 3k, and 4k). Woodland Park is a very hilly course and there will be a number of teams from Western Washington there.
2. September 12th – Inland Northwest Association Finals at Spokane’s Mead High School. This mostly flat course is the beginning of the Junior Olympic series. All meets from this date forward are required because they are qualifying meets. The top 35 in this race qualify for Regionals the next weekend in Portland. Honestly, most races at Association have fewer than 35 runners (except for perhaps the 12 & under age group which sometimes has up to 40 runners.) Our goal is field several full teams at the association meet. (A full team requires 5 scoring runners.) If parents are unable to travel but kids still want to compete, we may be able to help transport athletes to Spokane. The meet doesn’t start until noon this Saturday so we’ll be leaving Yakima early and coming back the same day after the races.
3. November 19th – Regionals meet in Portland. This is the championship meet for the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The top 30 individuals and 5 teams in each race qualify for nationals in Hoover, Alabama (suburb of Birmingham). This cross-country meet will be the fastest meet for youth this year, which is why we like to bring our Harriers to the meet. By running against the fastest runners, you understand what it takes to get to this level and can build up to it the next year. Typically this race will have about 40 runners in the 8 & under age group to about 110 runners in the 12 & under age group. If travel to Portland is too pricy, talk to coaches Aleah or myself. Scholarships are available to help families travel to meets like this.
4. December 9th – Junior Olymjo-picture-for-extended-season-2016pic Nationals. We have a few athletes gearing toward this meet. I also believe our 8 & under, 10 & under, and 12 & under boys as well as 10 & under girls team have a chance to qualify IF we could get a full team of five athletes competing all the way to Regionals. A team must have a minimum of five athletes and can have a maximum of eight. Both Coach Casey and myself have already bought tickets to Alabama and will be making the trip whether we have one or twenty athletes qualify.

In cross country it is difficult to predict how your child will place in a particular meet based on previous times. The difficulty of a particular course, race day conditions, running surface and footing dramatically effect a runner’s finishing time. Coach Casey has compiled a list of times from previous national and regional meets to give you a rough idea of where your child might place at both the Association and Regional meets. Please just understand there is a definite margin of error to it. ALSO and more importantly, we all plan on getting faster over the coming weeks as our form and fitness improve. Use your own judgement whether to share it with your child (everyone is different).

In conclusion, it is not too late to register if you or your Harrier (or even a Wenas Valley runner) would like four or five more weeks of running (eight for nationals). It has been a pleasure watching parents and athletes build relationships over the season. I think back to my years running on a youth club team. I am still friends with some of those guys.

See everyone at practice Monday at 5pm.

Please feel free to call if you have questions as we understand by the time you get to this point in the season there are more to things than what kind of popsicles are you going to have? 941-5191

First Practice and Parent Meeting Handout

Great seeing everyone for the first practice of the season!  Here is the handout from the parent meeting if you missed it:

SUN CITY HARRIERS 2016—Parent Meeting

Welcome to the 2016 Sun City Harriers Cross-Country Team.  What is on this handout is all information that is also on our website In terms of communication, we are most active on FaceBook (Sun City Harriers), second we post to our website, and third you may always grab a coach before/after practice or call Erik at 509-941-5191 or Aleah at 509-833-5952.  Have a great season!

Meet Schedule

September 24th (Sun City Home Meet at Franklin Park, I accidentally put the 23rd on the brochure). Meet is on Saturday.

October 1st (Sunfair Invitational at Franklin Park)

October 8th (Travel meet to Cascade Striders in Bellevue at Wilburton Park, 12400 Main St, Bellevue, WA 98005), there is also a two local road-race that weekend (Saturday at Sarge Hubbard Park & Sunday in East Valley if you do not want to travel to Bellevue for the meet).

October 15th (Apple Ridge Invite), I had the date wrong on the brochure. I had the 22nd listed and it is the 15th. This is also the last day of the regular season.

Post-Season Schedule

November 12th (Once again I got the dates messed up, I accidentally put Sunday on the brochure), this meet will be in Spokane at Mead High School.  Usually all participants qualify from this meet to Regionals.

November 19th – Region 13 Championship Meet in Portland Oregon

December 10th – National Championship Meet in Hoover, Alabama.  Must place in top 30 at regional meet in Portland to qualify.

Practice Times

Monday: 5:15-6:30 at Franklin Park (2101 Tieton Dr, Yakima, WA 98902; meet by the Rotary Pavilion)

Wednesday: 5:15-6:30 at Kissel Park (3000 W Mead Ave, Yakima, WA 98902; meet by the big toy)

Friday: 5:15-6:30 at Franklin Park (Full-Season only athletes)

* Warmup starts for group 1 and full season members at 5:15, the other half is at 5:30. Check out the page on groups for full explanation.

* Friday practice this year replaces last year’s Saturday practice and is geared for kids training for the post-season.

If your child is five and under, they can run in group 3 but a parent/guardian must run with them and oversee them at all practices. These parents love doing this by the way!

Regular Season, Full Season, and Extended Season: What’s the difference?

Regular Season: Sept. 12- Oct. 12th: 5:30pm – 6:30pm on Mondays & Wednesdays only; $40, t-shirt, all local meets, and popsicles!

Extended Season: Sept. 12-November 20th: 5:15pm – 6:30pm; Monday, Wednesday, & Fridays; $70, t-shirt, all meets (local, statewide, and post-season), and popscicles!

Post-Season: $40, Oct. 16th-November 20th, same time as other practices (remember daylight savings). Three practices a week, shirt, and all post-season meets. We say the season ends on November 20th. There will be a handful of athletes who decide to go to nationals in Alabama but this is the exception, not the expectation. The last meet for the post-season is November 20th for everyone.

Those running in the post-season must have a valid USATF card which are good from last track season or cross-country season for previous athletes. For new athletes, they run about $30.

If you are interested in being a coach, contact coach Erik. We need ten coaches for the ideal coach/athlete ratio.

$10 discount for each additional child (i.e. first child is $40, 2nd is $30, 3rd is $30, etc.

Training Groups

How do practices work and what group does my child fit in?

We have always had different groups of Harriers at practice.  This year, we have three distinct groups:

Group 3–Coach Aleah and Tracy’s group strive to learn the basics of running XC, build fitness, have fun, and play a few games. These kids wouldn’t mind running in a meet but only if there is a special prize like a ribbon or ice cream afterwards. Most kids range in age from 4-9. If your child is five or under, parent must practice with the child. (Only practices Monday & Wednesday)

Group 2–Coach Erik helps these harriers start to think about being serious about running but still never forgets about the game and popsicle at the end of practice. Age range for this group is 6-12.

Group 1–Former University of Oregon XC Duck, Coach Casey helps these harriers develop speed and endurance to run fast and compete well. This group is designed for runners interested in competing in USATF local and regional meets and maybe even the national meet. This group meets the full-season and practices Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.

*Kids can always change groups at anytime, first practice we usually split kids up via age and then move them around based on how they are doing.  We try to push them but not discourage them in terms of groups that they are running in.

So what is the first practice going to look like next week?

One week from today we will have just finished the first cross-country practice of the 2016 season at Franklin Park. What is practice going to look like?

Those who have ever run track or cross-country with Sun City before know we are prone to start on time. Literally.  When the iPhone hits 5:30, the whistle blows and the kids are off on their five-minute warm-up. If you are late, no worries. The kids can run across the park and join the group wherever they are at in their jog.

This year, coach Casey will be doing an earlier warm-up for those that want a longer warm-up and this will start at 5:15pm so you will hear two whistles (one at 5:15 and one at 5:30).  This first whistle is geared toward the kids who want to run a little more or already know they are working toward the Junior Olympic Post-Season.  If you are unsure, don’t worry about this, you can hop in at another practice. Kian, Kate, Kara, etc. this first whistle is for you. 😉

After we finish our five-minute warm-up in the Western side of Franklin Park we move into the stretching and drill portion of our practice at 5:35.  Drills are a key component of the Sun City Harriers. What we do during drills is practice running properly using our arms, knees, etc.  Everyone knows how to run but very few people naturally have beautiful form.  We finish drills with strides and sprints.

At 5:50 we split up into three groups.  Group 1 is for our fastest kids (usually 10-14 years of age) with previous running experience. Group 2 is coached by myself for most kids except for the young ones. Group 3 is coached by coach Aleah and Tracy primarily for kids 8 and under. Kids are allowed at any time to change groups and coaches will frequently suggest kids jump from one group to the next from day to day. Coaches will spend the first two weeks creating groups.

At 6:20, our workout finishes, and at this time we finish all our Monday and Wednesday practices with a game (Sharks and Minnows, Steal the Bacon, Capture the Flag, etc.). For those that want a little more, they can skip the game and Coach Casey closes with some sprints.

At 6:30 we close our workout with a team cheer and Pospcisles.

Parents, please run and walk as much or as little of the warm-up, drills, and workout as you would like.  Some kids like you to be in their groups while others not so much (then us coaches would love to have you join another group!) If you have a child that is five-and-under you do need to accompany them at practice them then entire workout every day.  What else? Bathrooms are on the opposite side of the track so they are a trek from where we are practicing. Make sure your young Harrier brings a water bottle as we will have several water breaks.

It’s going to be a great season. See you next week!

Coach Erik

If you don’t have it yet, here is the link to the registration form: Registration-Form-2016-XC

How do practices work and what group does my child fit in?

We have always had different groups of Harriers at practice.  This year, we have three distinct groups:

Group 3–Coach Aleah and Tracy’s group strive to learn the basics of running XC, build fitness, have fun, and play a few games. These kids wouldn’t mind running in a meet but only if there is a special prize like a ribbon or ice cream afterwards. Most kids range in age from 4-9. If your child is five or under, parent must practice with the child. (Only practices Monday & Wednesday)

Group 2–Coach Erik helps these harriers start to think about being serious about running but still never forgets about the game and popsicle at the end of practice. Age range for this group is 6-12.

Group 1–Former University of Oregon XC Duck, Coach Casey helps these harriers develop speed and endurance to run fast and compete well. This group is designed for runners interested in competing in USATF local and regional meets and maybe even the national meet. This group meets the full-season and practices Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.

*Kids can always change groups at anytime

Post-Season Practice and JO Meet Schedule for November 14th

This was an old standby practice called X’s and O’s.  Kids jog the O’s and sprint the X’s.  We started off with a five minute interval with two minutes rest, then progresses down to four minutes, three minutes, two minutes, and then one minute.  As the kids got tired, the workout got shorter and they had a great time.  Typical workout: Warmup jog: 7 minutes; Stretching: 5 minutes; Drills: 5

2015 USATF Inland Northwest Association

Junior Olympic Inland Northwest Cross-Country Association Meet in Pasco On November 14th.

Junior Olympic Inland Northwest Cross-Country Association Meet in Pasco On November 14th.

Junior Olympic Inland Northwest Cross-Country Association Meet in Pasco On November 14th.

Junior Olympic Cross Country


(Associations to Regionals)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Big Cross Course- Pasco, WA



Individuals: Current USATF membership is required to compete.

If you do not have a USATF card yet, please go to: and register for this (upper right corner of the website)

Proof of Birth (copy of birth certificate, passport,

certified baptismal record, driver’s license, or U.S. government identification) is required and must be submitted

prior to registration and participation.

Teams: Only registered USATF member clubs may enter a team. All athletes representing the club must be

affiliated with that club as part of their USATF membership. To enter a team, a club must complete the team

entry/declaration process during online registrations. Only athletes listed on the team declaration roster will be

eligible to represent the club at the Association, Regional or National championships.

TEAM SCORING: 8 athletes on the team entry/declaration form may be declared as scoring athletes. The top 5

finishers among the declared runners will score.

COMPETITION BIB NUMBERS: All competitors must wear their assigned bib numbers during competition, chest-high

on the front of their jerseys. Bib numbers will be distributed to athletes at Big Cross Course on November 14.

EVENT RESULTS: During competition, event results will be posted near the finishline. In addition, event results will

be posted on the coach O & association websites.

AWARDS: USATF Junior Olympic medals will be awarded to the top fifteen individuals in each age division and top 2


ADVANCEMENTS-From Association to Regionals: Top 15 individuals and top 2 teams in each age group will

advance to the National Championships. The Regional Championship meet will be held at Big Cross Course in Pasco

on Saturday, November 21, 2015


On-Time Registration: Must be completed by November 11, 2015



Individual Entries: $10.00 per athlete. (Sun City will pick up this charge if you have registered with our team)

Team Entries: No charge

PAYMENTS: The online entry system accepts all credit cards

CONTACT: Kate Samuelson, meet director:

Club Administrators and Unattached Athletes should register online at by November 11, 2015 at 7:00PM. Late entries will not be

allowed. Online registration opens October 26, 2015. Fees must be paid online by the close of registration.

Accuracy of data entered is the responsibility of each club and/or athlete.

Please validate data within Coach O for accuracy prior to submitting entry. An instructional video on the online

registration process may be accessed by visiting,

Valid 2015 USATF Membership and Proof of Birth is required for participation. Before registration, please

ensure that the membership chair has received (via email) a copy of the athlete’s Proof of Birth (copy of birth

certificate, passport, certified baptismal record, driver’s license or U.S. government identification). See Rule 300.1 (i)

for further explanation.

Membership Chair: Kim Kutsch

For questions or to send verification, contact at:

minutes; Workout 25 minutes.

First practice of the post-season tonight

First post-season practice is tonight. If you have been just kind of “looking” this is a great time to jump on board. Typically going into the post-season we go from about 80 kids down to 20. The cost for existing Harriers/Wenas Valley is $20, for those who haven’t run on a club yet is $35 (this includes a shirt and the race fees for the Junior Olympic Meets). Today’s workout will be great! We’ll have a warm-up, some drills, and epic hills (what else would you expect from a cross-country team?). See you tonight at 5pm sharp at Franklin Park. Cheers, Coach Erik