Youth Track and Field Advice
It requires energy from the body to break down food and it pulls blood away from the muscles and directs it to the gut to aid in digestion. For this reason- its best to have 2-3 hours after a full meal before exercise. A light snack requires only 30-60 minutes. Generally you want to stay away from high fiber foods before exercise because it can upset the stomach. Foods that are simple and easy to be digested typically work well (for example- an apple, banana, crackers instead of lasagne or tacos). Eating a food with protein after exercise is helpful to enable the body to rebuild and repair. Milk is a simple option that works well- it has 8 grams of protein per cup.
Your body's hydration status fluctuates constantly throughout the day. Being dehydrated by 1-2% of your body weight will cause performance deficits. 2 cups of water is one pound so for a 50 pound child drinking 1-2 cups or for a 100 pound child 3-4 cups of water 2 hours before exercise will help ensure adequate hydration. During exercise it is good to drink a little water every 15-20 minutes. On hot or humid days where your child will be sweating a sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc...) will help replace electrolytes lost in sweat.
Running shoes, not track shoes (shoes with running spikes) are recommended. Shoes with a rubber sole on the bottom offer better grip than shoes with foam only (the track is a little slippery, it is going to be re-surfaced in the next year or two). Shoes should be tight enough to stay on while running/ jumping and allow for quick changes in direction but not so tight to restrict the foot's natural motion while running. The foot also swells while running due to increase blood flow so shoes with adequate width in the toe box and a little extra length (half a size or so) will help. Shoes that are too long add stress to the toes and run a higher risk of foot injury.
Generally, this should be done by the coach at the beginning of practice. The goal of a warm-up is to prepare the muscles and joints that will be used for exercise. For Track and Field, the lower body will be the focus. Balance exercises, jogging, lateral movements, squats/lunges, jump progressions and core strength exercises are a great start. Stretching is more effective after a warm-up, and deep stretching is best performed AFTER exercise.