Monday, 27 December 2010

Running........intrinsically enjoyable!

1978. I was Phys. Edn. head at St. Mary's Menston R.C. School.  A Leeds authority upper school. It's the last Leeds Schools' cross country league fixture of the season and I'm stood a half mile from the finish line, waiting for the under 14 runners to appear over the hill top. The first runner comes into view. I spot the distinctive blue t-shirt with white and maroon chestbands (not my choice!) A teammate follows him. the another. A rival. Then another and another. A rival. Another and on it goes.

 They put 7 in the first 11 finishers. The "A" team wins the event, the "B" team finishes second.
Another teacher shouts over,    " What you feeding them, Terry?"
  "Enjoyment.........pure enjoyment!  I replied.
                        That's what it's primarily about,  our running, isn't it?

  On the Monday the squad plus the u/12s and u/13 teams piled in at lunchtime for more training together.  As a teacher, rather than a coach, I had to come up with sessions which catered for all abilities from the "stars" to those coming for the very first time. Not easy.   They were as keen and eager as always.
  I congratulated them all on their success but was keen to stress that the medals, getting their names in the papers (the photo above appeared in the Yorkshire Post) and the kudos in the school were worth nothing unless they enjoyed the simple, natural act of putting one foot in front of the other in that rhythmical fashion we call running.
 They went on that season to finish 3rd of 100+ teams in a major regional competition and whilst I was very proud of their of their successes and pleased that they had reward for all their efforts I repeatedly stressed that I would be most pleased to see them enjoying their running long after leaving school,  long after the medals had been thrown away or stored at the bottom of a removal box, long after those newspaper clippings had turned brown and curled at the edges.
 I tried to stress that running would be their passport to a better, healthier way of life and allow them to appreciate sights and sounds in the natural world  that non-runners often miss out on, particularly on holiday, perhaps.  Spectacular sunsets, cliff top runs,  forest trails discovered, the view from the top of a mountain climbed.  For example,  an old holiday running shot ...........

 Of course,  all this went over the heads of some of the lads and they stopped running as soon as I left the school !  But having forged a link with my own club, Bingley Harriers, several of them went on to achieve great things with the club  and one or two are still racing at a good level.
 It would be nice to think that in the current climate the majority are still getting out and doing a bit.  Interestingly, many ex-pupils who didn't figure in those teams frequently come in the shop and participate at races and very often say they wish they had done more at school! reviewing  2010,  running wise,  the first question perhaps we have to ask ourselves is
                 " Am I still enjoying my running?"   Answer being ...."Yes!" 
  With far less emphasis on times and placings in events,  the main aim has been  to introduce as much VARIETY as  possible  into the training week. Road, canal, woodland trail, reservoir trails and of course the weekly crucial track session; by far the fastest surface.  Plus finding some new routes in the Lakes with spectacular views.  Variety also maintained by freshening the events list up with a few races never run before..........
The Preston Docklands 5,  the Haweswater half, the Boggart Hole Clough 10k, the Platt Fields 10K.

                         Tomorrow,  the more "depressing" (?)   aspect of evaluation.   
A review of  training done and training missed.  A review of races done and races missed. 
And finally, refering to races missed, commiserations if you were entered for another victim of the snow ,the Ribble Valley 10K.

No comments:

Post a Comment