For the past few weeks I have been driving to Canaan, NH three days a week to coach a group of middle school runners. Stemming off the successful cross-country program that we commenced in the fall, this new spring running group has thirty-five energetic kids. However, due to the lack of a nearby track facility, my middle school athletes forgo the typical spring track season and train for various local road races in the area. Seen more has a conditioning program and an extension of cross-country, my middle schoolers train to be able to compete in three and four mile races. Coaching the kids has been a lot of fun, and it is neat to be able to watch the transformation of athletes that I had in the fall. Runners who used to be timid and unsure of themselves are now begging to be able to run one more hill repeat or an extra lap around the field. To be able to watch them enjoy the sport that I love has been a great pleasure. Last weekend we even saw our first race of the year. Since the race was on Mother’s Day, only a few of the kids were able to make it, but the ones who did had fantastic results. The race was a tough trail 5km through mud and over a roller-coaster of hills. All the kids raced tough and many of them landed on various age group podiums and one of the older boys even ended up placing fourth overall. The best story came from one of the younger boys, who was unsure of himself leading into the race, concerning that he wouldn’t be able to make it around the entire course. I assured him that he would be fine and that he has been training well and would surprise himself. After finishing, he was exhausted claiming that it was the hardest thing he had ever done and that he would never do it again. But that all quickly changed when he learned that he had won his age-group and after collecting his award, he was already talking about the next race.
|The few who braved the first race of the year|