Tips & Techniques

Middle School Fall Running Club Plus Meets

Denise Smith 
August 31, 2020


We are so heartbroken that cross country for the middle school runner has been cancelled for 2020.  We think cross country is one of the greatest sports because it fosters a great team atmosphere but also builds confidence in the young runner.  And these runners, between 6-8th grade, are just starting to learn how to control their bodies and are finding that with hard work and dedication, they can run fast and far!
When we heard that most middle schools in McHenry County had opted out of participating in cross country this year, we decided to figure out a way to bring running to them.  So we created the Smith Running Academy Fall Running Club.  While we hope this is a one-time thing, we hope our club helps to educate runners of all the things that are important to being a GOOD runner.  Running more miles or understanding the difference between a fartlick and a tempo run does not make one a skilled runner.  Expanding an understanding of things like proper technique, the role of strength and flexibility training, how balance training can improve running form, and starting to learn about nutrition and mental performance are all part of creating a healthy love for running.
If this sounds like something your middle schooler would enjoy, join us for the Fall Running Camp.  All practices will be at Smith Running Academy in Crystal Lake.  The coaches are certified and experienced at working with young athletes.  Coaches include experienced runners, running technique specialists, personal trainers/strength and conditioning specialists, nutritionists/dietitians, mental performance experts, yoga instructors, and other motivational speakers.
Practices will be Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 5:30-7:00 pm and will be structured to address key aspects of running, while maintaining social distancing requirements (with limited use of masks when running).  The club begins Tuesday, September 8 and runs through Friday, October 23.
Meets will be held at Veterans Acres on September 20* (this is tentative and will be determined ASAP), October 3, and October 24.  Start times may be spread out to accommodate social distancing requirements set by the state but this will be determined once we have a final count.  Cross Country Meets are important to runners to develop race strategy, build a team atmosphere, and learn how to be competitive and friendly.  All meets will be chipped timed to spread out the number of racers on the course to keep all participants and spectators safe.
The cost of the program is $150/runner.   If your runner would be interested in the meets only, they are able to register and join for $25/race.  Please note, you will have to register for each event separately.
We are looking for parents/siblings/community members who would be willing to volunteer during the races.  These will include tasks such as racer check-in/registration, start and finish line assistant and coures marshalls.  Must be at least 15 years old to volunteer.  Click here to register as a volunteer.
Our goal is to keep the runners safe without limiting their access to this great sport.  Please email Coach Megan at  or Denise at  You can also call 815.893.9075 for more information.
For more information, download our flyer here:Middle School Running Club (3)

Click here to register:

Meet the Author
Denise Smith graduated from Marquette University in 2002 with a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy and has been a certified running technique specialist since 2014. She is a consultant for multiple local middle and high schools and instructs courses in Kinesiology at McHenry County College. Denise also travels the country as part of the Pose Method education team with a lecture series on injury prevention and treatment along with the running technique certification course.
You were made to move!