Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides information and advice to parents and athletes regarding Loudoun Special Forces Track Club activities.

  1. What should we bring to practice?
  2. What should we bring to a meet?
  3. What age group will my child run in?
  4. Can you tell me more about Hershey competition?
  5. What are PVTC Langley meets like?
  6. What should I do if my child is sore?
  7. What sort of shoes should I buy?
  8. Can you tell me about USATF competition?
  9. What about the AAU Junior Olympics?
  10. Can you tell me about the PG Indoor meets?

1. What should we bring to practice?
For all outdoor training sessions; dress in layers taking into account the forecast. Wear good cushioned shoes and bring water bottles. We hold practice and run in the rain. Make sure you eat and drink something at least two hours before practice. It is a good idea to bring a snack, such as a cereal chewy bar, for immediately after practice to help with recovery.<top of page>

2. What should we bring to a meet?
For athletes to perform their best, we (parents) must provide them with the proper fuel to start their engines and keep them running smoothly throughout the day. This means giving them a good breakfast with plenty of carbohydrate (for example: pancakes/waffles or toast, and limit or no meat/eggs/dairy) before coming to the field; and provide suitable nutritional foods to eat during the meet. Once your child is finished their events for the day, they can enjoy a heavier meal.

Listed below are suggested items to consider when preparing for long track meets. If you are veteran of track meets, you probably already know what to bring, but first-time parents may find these ideas helpful:

Food Items

Weather Protection

Comfort Items

Keep Children Busy



Portable chair


Sports drink






Insect repellant



Sun block




Light jacket

Seat cushion


Low fat pastry

Allergy medicine


Board games

Trail mix




Orange slices

Hat (sun/rain)




Socks (extra)









  • Arrive at the meet location 1 (one) hour before the meet is scheduled to start. This allows the athletes time to find their team, orient themselves and warm up before the meet begins. Meets endeavor to run strictly to schedule and if athletes are not in the report-in area at the designated time for their event they may not be able to participate in that event.
  • It is a good idea to put your child's name on all pieces of track equipment (e.g. clothing, shoes, bag, etc.) 
  • Large meets take nearly the whole day. You can expect to be outside in various weather conditions from 8:00 am until late afternoon. Bring items that will allow you and your child to be comfortable for the time period. 
  • Do not allow your child to drink sodas the day of a meet. 
  • On hot/sunny days keep your child out of the sun as much as possible, this will help preserve that much-needed energy for their event(s). We will have one or more tents/canopies to help keep them cool.
  • Canopies that are put up by the coaches are primarily for the athletes; parents make sure the athletes are sheltered first. 
  • Athletes need to keep their sweats (pants) on, when they are not performing their event, to keep their muscles warm.  This will help prevent injuries and enhances their performance. <top of page>

3. What age group will my child run in?
Age grouping for Hershey, AAU and USATF competitions is determined by your age at the end of the calendar year. For example, even if your 13th birthday was not until December 31, 2006, you would compete in the Youth category throughout 2006.

  • Primary - Ages 7 & 8 born 1998-1999 (not an official USATF age group)

  • Bantam - Ages 9 & 10 born 1996-1997

  • Midget - Ages 11 & 12 born 1994-1995

  • Youth - Ages 13 & 14 born 1992-1993

  • Intermediate - Ages 15 & 16 born 1990-1991

  • Young Men/Women - Ages 17 & 18 born 1988-1989<top of page>

4. Can you tell me more about Hershey competition?
The Hershey track program is an introductory program that has limited events. For example, no spikes or starting blocks are allowed, and the only field events are Standing Broad Jump and Softball Throw. Age-groups are 9-10, 11-12, and 13-14. Age grouping for Hershey is determined by your age at the end of the calendar year. The first Hershey meet is held on our home track Heritage HS in Leesburg. The first two competitors in each event progress to a regional meet, held in the Northern Virginia area (in 2005 it was Falls Church). The first two competitors from this event qualify for the Virginia meet held at the University of Virginia complex in Charlottesville. The team trip to Charlottesville involves an overnight stay and for many is the highlight of the season. Winning in Charlottesville does not mean that you automatically qualify for the Hershey North American Final Meet held over the first weekend in August (3, 4, and 5 in 2006) in Hershey PA. Only one athlete is selected per event based on their performances compared with others in our region, South East, at their state finals. Our region includes states such as Florida and Georgia which have very strong track programs and so it is very tough to reach the National Final. However, in each of the last three years two of our athletes were selected to represent the South East Region.<top of page>

5. What are PVTC Langley meets like?
PVTC Meets at Langley High School are low-key all-comers meets. They are a great introduction to track competition as they lack the crowds, noise and duration of some of the larger invitational meets. Held throughout the summer and only 30 minutes from Loudoun County, children get the opportunity to participate in all types of events including throws and jumps. Relatively small numbers of attendees and encouragement from adult organizers and competitors mean that these events provide good competition while providing an enjoyable learning experience. For directions, click here.
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6. What should I do if my child is sore?
It is normal that your child will be stiff and have some aches, especially in the early part of the season as they get in shape. Two great ways to help with recovery are putting Epsom Salts in their bath, and by icing. Icing can be done either by placing an icepack on the area (a bag of frozen vegetables works well) or by freezing water in a Dixie cup and using this to massage the affected area. Make sure you have a towel to catch the melting water! If the pain is sharp rather than an ache, your child may have an injury. You should discuss this with a coach.
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7. What sort of shoes should we buy?
What you wear on your feet is the most important item of clothing in track! 

For training you should wear good cushioned shoes designed specifically for running, and not basketball or tennis shoes which lack the support required. We recommend you visit a specialist running store such as Potomac River Running in Ashburn who offer a 10% discount to Special Forces Members. When buying training shoes you should ask them to analyze your 'gait'. Three running styles are commonly identified: 
Neutral: This is where the heel of the runner makes contact with the ground and the foot travels in a straight line as it moves forward.
: This where the heel hits the ground but this time the foot moves to the side as it travels forward. It refers to the inward roll of the foot.
: This is where the heel hits the ground and the foot rolls outward.

Your training shoe should have the correct type of support for your foot and running style.

For racing, many athletes wear lighter shoes with less cushioning. These are often known as 'spikes' because they allow short spikes to be screwed into the underside of the shoe. Spikes help provide grip and keep the athlete on their toes when racing. Again, we recommend that you visit a specialist store and be sure to tell them the type of events you compete in, as sprinting spikes are different from middle-distance spikes. If you compete over a wide range of distances and choose one pair of spikes, cross-country spikes offer the greatest flexibility.

Another lightweight type of racing shoe, similar in appearance to spikes, are known as 'flats'. These are sometimes called 'spikeless' track spikes! They do not allow spikes to be screwed in to the underside. Note: Hershey competition does not allow spikes to be worn and so if your child will participate in Hershey, and you do not want to purchase more than one pair of racing shoes, it may be best to purchase 'flats' for all their racing. Again, for training sessions you should wear cushioned training shoes unless your coach asks you specifically to wear your spikes or flats.

If you have any further questions, please ask one of the coaches.<top of page>

8. Can you tell me about the 2006 USATF competition?
he USATF Junior Olympic competition progresses from a Virginia State meet (6/17-18) in Newport News VA, to the Regional Finals in Atlanta GA (7/6 through 7/9) and then to the National Junior Olympics which will be held 7/27 - 7/30 in Baltimore MD. <top of page>

9. What about the AAU Junior Olympics?
This competition, similar to USATF, culminates in the 2006 National Finals in Norfolk, VA. The state meet in Hampton (6/10-6/11) is the same weekend as Hershey District meet in Falls Church (6/10). However, AAU qualifiers move straight to the National finals without needing to attend a regional meet as Virginia is the host state for the AAU National Finals this year. <top of page>

10. Can you tell me about the PG Indoor meets?
Information about the Winter Indoor meets held at PG Sports and Learning Complex is here.

© Special Forces Track Club 1998-2005