kids · run · thoughts · training

Weirdos Wanted; Coaching Cross Country

On the first day of cross country practice one runner said to another, “that shirt is way too small! You look weird.” I stepped right in with, “that’s what is so great about cross country: weirdos belong!” And the ‘weird-o’ with the small shirt says, “I am SO good at being weird. This is going to be great.”

And basically it was.

CC2
My son and his hockey hair.

Two days a week we met and run about 3 miles. On Mondays, I had them run hill repeats or speed drills and on Wednesdays we ran ‘distance’. I struggled a little the first two weeks trying to figure out how to keep the groups of runners vaguely together. Grade school cross country is a little different from high school teams in that I wasn’t sure I should just let the kids run routes basically on their own. The majority of the runners were 9 years old! But fortunately we live in a great corner of south Minneapolis with quick access to parks, Minnehaha Creek and Lake Nokomis, so with a little creativity I was able to keep them moving and interested.

The kids were in grades 4 – 8 and mostly all just wanted to run. A few had to be coaxed into running and would have preferred it if I had just led them to Dairy Queen to eat ice cream. One day my son walked out of the locker room after practice with a super long face. He admitted that a few boys thought I was ‘mean’ because we ran instead of walked around the neighborhood. I felt bad for my kid but honestly, I took it as a good sign.

CC1
Running with the pack.

All in all, I am so glad that I risked making our busy lives even busier by agreeing to coach. There were only 3 girls on the 11 person team and I was able to run every practice with them. I will never take more girl time for granted! And it has led to my son’s interest in running 5k races with me. With the way he is running, I probably only have 2-3 more years of being able to keep pace with him!

And I definitely got more out of the meets than anyone because I just love watching kids put so much effort into their goals. Our team was a part of a small ‘league’ of non-public schools and after cheering on the runners at our weekly meets over the short 7-week season, I became pretty attached to them.

The other great development for me was that during the season I learned how to run ‘just for fun’ and to routinely back off my pace. If I wanted the kids to be encouraged and not completely hate running I figured the pace had better be friendly! To my own detriment I sometimes run in that dreaded not-fast-but-not-slow zone that just breaks me down. It was great to learn how to run relaxed and not hurriedly too.

I’m already looking forward to next season!

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Weirdos Wanted; Coaching Cross Country

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s