Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to an elementary school track club. Two or three times a week they gather before school to run/walk a distance that is determined by the individuals in charge, usually between 1 and 2 miles with parent sponsors along also. The third through sixth graders really look forward to their morning sessions and are very proud to be in the track club. I was asked to speak to them and tell them a little about how I started running, what it's like to run in a race, how I train, nutrition ideas, and stretching.
They listened very carefully as I described how I got started running and why I liked running so much. As I told them that I started out walking and running just like they are doing (but as an adult) and then progressed up to running different distances, it was clear that they were very interested in learning more and more. They wanted to know what it was like to run a marathon and an ultra-marathon. It was fun to tell them a few stories about the races that I had run.
However, the most exciting part of the morning was that there were 60-70 kids exercising on a regular basis and enjoying being with their friends and parents. As I talked to them it was clear to me that they were the future of running. Right there in front of me were the future walkers and runners that would perhaps enter races as middle school, high school, college, and adult participants. Whether it be for recreation or competition, they were going to be the foundation. It was so exciting being a small part of what they are doing.
Dean Karnazes has an organization call Karno Kids that raises dollars to support improving health and wellness of our youth. His website talks about how we all can become active in his quest of "No Child Left Inside". It's amazing what is going on in our communities.
As the morning ended I asked the kids if they knew what a standing ovation was. They mentioned that it could be something that was real good, something that you enjoyed, something special, and other phrases. Then I told them that the morning was not about me, but about them. It was about them getting up early to come to school and to care about their health and wellness. It was about them coming to be with their friends and parents and to walk/run on a beautiful October morning. It was about them being the future of running. I asked them to stand-up and give themselves a standing ovation. They did. The gym roared with excitement!
As I stood there watching them leave the gym and then joining in with them, I realized that sometime down the road they might think back to that October morning where some guy that ran crazy distances gave them an idea that they too could dream. And make it come true!
Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!