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

Track Fit only a month away for Sun City

Greetings Sun City. The sun is coming out today and this is one great reason to be running on the eastside of the mountains “instead” of the rainy side.  We are a only four weeks away from the start of “Track-Fit” which will be starting March 1st at the YISA building at 2920 River Rd at 7pm.  It will be every Tuesday night until the official season start from 7 to about 7:45pm.

My three girls (ages 12, 10 and 8) are ready to run away all the excess energy that has been building up. In “Track-Fit” we will be focusing on three main areas: the core strength of our kids (back and abs), speed drills, and having fun (yes there will be games).

Cost is going to be $30/month (payable to SportFit), just bring a check or cash to the first day of workout. Since we will not be hitting the actual track until the beginning of May Sun City will be using Track Fit for initial base work. Kids who have a strong core run with better form and are significantly to get injured once they hit the track with nagging injuries such as shin splints.

Looking forward to seeing you in a month!

Coach Erik


"Track-Fit" starts March 1st at 7pm at 2920 River Road in Yakima.

“Track-Fit” starts March 1st at 7pm at 2920 River Road in Yakima.

2016 Track Season for Sun City

Greeting Sun City Track Team!

Coach Aleah and I are still on cloud 9 from the successful cross-country season in 2015. With the three Harriers that went on to nationals just a little over a month ago to go with all of the new athletes who are just learning how much fun running is. We are thrilled with the direction our club is headed. Just as excited as we are about our past cross-country season, we are even more excited about track season. So here is what is around the corner!

1. Track training is going to start March 1st. Sun City is partnering with SportFit at the YISA (Yakima Indoor Soccer Association) facility on River Road. This training is going to be every Tuesday night at 7pm and will last about forty minutes. We will be doing drills, lots of core work (abs, back, box jumps) and some sprints. This will be for two months (once a week). These will be led by Gerd Strom who runs the youth soccer clubs in Yakima and has an abundance of training in young kids. We have also known each other for almost a decade (he competed for the University of Washington in soccer when Aleah and I both ran for the Huskies as well). There is a marginal cost of $30/month for the cost of the facility and training. If one wants you can choose to do one month and do not have to do two months. If you choose to do this, make your check out to SportFit and just bring it to the first day of training on March 1st.

2. Track season is going to start the first week of May this year. This will be a month later than last year. Last season dragged on a hair bit in our opinion. This will also make it start after or towards the end of most of the high school and middle school seasons.

3. We are moving the focus of our track club towards middle distances for this season. Our three main coaches (Erik, Aleah, and Chris Waddle) all specialize in distance (400 meters (1/4 mile) up to 3000 meters (a hair less than two miles). We will be doing a lot of focus on the 400 and 800 meters this year for most athletes unless they feel called to the longer distances. Unfortunately with the limited number of coaches and dependent facilities at this time there are not enough resources to focus on all of the track and field events. Last year we ran into problems with the Yakima School District not allowing us to use Eisenhower track, at West Valley they took away our high jump pits halfway through the year, and there were many other obstacles as well. Aleah and I talked long and hard about this but our philosophy is we would rather do middle distances really well, than be mediocre at a lot of other things so that is going to be our philosophy for this season. We will for sure not have any field events for this season. Kids can still choose to do sprints (100 & 200 meters) but at this time we do not have a coach for sprints. If there is a parent who feels “called” to coach sprints, she/he would have to join USATF, get a full background check, and then commit to working with Sun City through track regionals.

4. We will not be having a local track meet this year. Yakima youth track does put on three youth track meets in the summer so there is that option for kids. Our team will be traveling to Seattle for one meet in May and then running the Junior Olympic series (two meets in Spokane in June) and Regionals is in Seattle in early July to end the season.

5. Practice locations have not been formalized yet. The good news is we have figured out which locations are hard to work with (Eisenhower) and which ones are easier to work with. Sun City will be working with the local school districts to formalize our practice schedule locations. We are currently planning on the same schedule as last year though (track on Tuesday & Thursday at 6pm) and then Saturday mornings at Cowiche Canyon at 10am.

We want to be as inclusive as a track club as possible but we also want to allow kids to further their own talents as far as he/she can take them. In summary this is how we see the kids:

1. The “I always want more group”—This is who we were thinking of in regards to the March 1st cross-training sessions. Even though track doesn’t start until May, this will allow those athletes a chance to work out, start getting sharp, be social with their teammates, and start to freshen up. I will also be posting month supplemental training schedules for anyone who wants to work on some base work pre-season.

2. The “prime-time group”—This group shows up when it is time to show up and brings it. Usually our kids who do multiple sports throughout the seasons, does little running until the very first day of track, but when the season starts they are all in.

3. The “just getting my feet wet group”—These kids usually have little or no running experience and some of my favorite to work with because they grow so quickly. If your child has never run track before, have no fear we all started somewhere. We start slowly, believe in lots of encouragement, and have lots of success stories of previous kids.

Looking forward to 2016 and we will be blogging with more details in the weeks and months to come.

Coach Erik
Sun City Track

Feel free to call me at 941-5191 if you have any questions regarding the team.

It’s Race Day Tomorrow!

Kara Goucher, leading US women's marathoner sets her gear out before she runs every race.

Kara Goucher, leading US women’s marathoner sets her gear out before she runs every race.

Tomorrow is race day. Race day in the Mickelson household was an amazing time for me growing up. I started running track at age eight and cross-country at the age of ten so it is in my blood. I also had amazing parents who understood being an athlete. My dad ran track and field for the University of Washington and knew what it took to get an athlete ready in the morning so he engraved this into me with my mom always making me a good breakfast in the mornings.

The first thing on race day is to ALWAYS know your schedule. It is also imperative to know it the night before. So for tomorrow this means we all know pictures are at 8am tomorrow morning. Former Yakima Herald photographer Andy is doing our pictures and giving them to us AT-COST! This means he is volunteering his time and will post the pictures for free-download. Also, warm-up will be at 8:30 for Kindergarden-2nd grade and a half-hour later for 3rd-6th grade and 9:30am for 7th and 8th grade.

Second, make sure you have your young harriers uniforms set out (gold shirts) as well as shorts, sweats, running shoes and a sweatshirt so you are ready to roll come wake-up time.

Third, plan your breakfast ahead of time. Mom, dad or harrier what are you going to eat? Please do not eat donuts, or any fatty food for breakfast. Fats take several hours to digest and will be rolling around the harrier’s stomach come race time. Aleah and my favorite pre-race food is toasted peanut butter toast (two pieces) about two hours pre-race or workout. Perhaps also have a banana since these have a great nutrition source as well. We would strongly recommend eating nothing at least an hour before the race. If your harrier does need something this soon to the race make it super-simple, fast digestible carbohydrates (Gatorade or equivalent, banana, Gu packets (without caffeine), white bread with jelly, etc.

As always, have fun on race morning. Your child may “freak-out.” No worries, this is a really safe environment to learn and grow. Some harriers want to win or place tomorrow. For others we want them to just run the entire way. Others hitting the start AND finish line will be the victory.

If you have any questions feel free to call or text Aleah (833-5952) or myself (833-5951).

Harriers, harriers, harriers!

See you tomorrow,

Coach Erik

Is my child in the right group at practice?

Wow, we have an amazing group of harriers.  We are in week three of practice, and compared to last year, the kids are doing a better job at drills, the enthusiasm is greater, and everyone seems to be having fun.

Here is one of our younger harriers who is doing great in her current group of peers.

I had several parents and kids ask me today at practice if they can move up to a new group. The quick answer to this question is “yes.” If you are looking for a more challenging workout, just ask your coach and we can shift you up a group for a practice or two and see how you fare. Likewise, if you think your child would benefit by moving down a group, talk to us about this too and we can see if this is better for them too.

Every child is different. In our family’s case, we have to push our kids because they would be content jogging a half-mile and calling it a day.  As parents, we walk a fine line between encouraging our children to try their best and pushing too hard, when running turns into punishment.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether your child is in the right group at practice:

  1. Are they having fun? This is the most important thing we can stress in youth athletics. If they are not having fun, we’ve missed the mark. Of course, there are times when a child gets a side ache or just has a bad day, but there should always be some sort of enjoyment.
  2. Are they able to finish the workout?
  3. Are they competitive to a degree?  This will look different depending on your child. For example, I was born with a competitive streak but several of my children couldn’t care less for competition. Still, we want to place kids in a workout group where they can work together as a group to accomplish a goal – finishing an interval in a certain time, for example. A bit of competition can motivate us to perform better than our best solo effort. I feel it is important for my children to be exposed to competition, as this will help them perform under pressure later in life: In high school, college, and the job market.

See you Thursday!

Coaches Erik and Aleah

Time Trial Information

Dear Sun City Harriers,

We had a great first week of cross-country practice! I love everyone’s positive attitude and hard work!

Team shirts will arrive this week – probably Thursday. We’ll distribute the shirts after practice, so make sure you’ve turned in your registration form and team fee.

Our team time trial is scheduled for this Saturday (September 20th) at 11 am at Franklin Park. Sixth grade and under will run a 1-mile course; Seventh grade and above will run 1.5 miles. The time trial will serve several purposes. Think of it as a “practice race.” We will follow our typical pre-race routine with a warm-up, stretching, drills and strides. After the warm-up, the team will run a timed mile or 1.5 mile course.

I want to encourage everyone to participate in the time trial for several reasons: 1) It will help decrease pre-race “jitters” for upcoming races; 2) It will give you a good indication of your current fitness level; 3) It will help us set appropriate goals for upcoming races; and 4) You’ll get to preview the course for both our upcoming Sun City Harriers Youth XC Invite (September 27th) and the Sunfair Invite (October 4th).

For the time trial, meet at our regular spot near the playground at Franklin Park. Wear your team t-shirt and bring a water bottle. Eat a small snack about 1-2 hours before the time trial.

It is time to start thinking about our upcoming Sun City Harriers Youth XC Invite and Sunfair Invite. We’ll need lots of parent help with this meet, especially at the finish line and along the course to ensure runners are staying on course. I’ll have a sign-up sheet at practice where you can sign up to help. Our youth invite is open to all ages of runners, including preschool-aged children.   As for the Sunfair Invite, I’ll need to know by this Thursday whether you plan to participate. Sunfair is available to our elementary, middle school, and high school runners. (Sorry, no Pre-K at Sunfair.) I will assume you plan to participate in Sunfair unless I hear otherwise.

As always, please feel free to give us a call at (509) 833-5951 (Erik) or (509) 833-5952 (Aleah) if you have any questions. You can also email me at aleahmickelson(at)msn.com or talk to us before or after practice.

Go Harriers!

Aleah Mickelson

Get Fit & Have Fun!

handsWe have fully recovered, school is almost out and we are ready for the 2014 cross-country season.  Yes, Yakima is the fourth most obese city in the United States but it wont stay that way if the Sun City Harriers have anything to do about it.  Before last season, our eight-year old daughter could only run a quarter-mile.  By the end of the season, she was up to over two miles without stopping.