Signs of Winter
by Clara Grandt on December 21, 2011
Each time December rolls around, I start looking for the signs of winter to start appearing. Christmas decorations (some even up before Thanksgiving), the annual post-collegiate Secret Santa Christmas party, the first few snowflakes, and university students overtaking Panera while they study for finals. Well, all those signs have appeared this year. My tree went up a couple weekends ago, I got a pillow-pet moose at the Secret Santa Christmas party, we’ve had one snow that allowed me to break out my Mizuno breath thermo wear, and I am in Panera surrounded by students in sweats, buried in laptops and notebooks. I blend in quite well.
At the start of each December, one more sign of the months ahead appears. Children from first to twelfth grade start entering the indoor track in shorts, t-shirts, and running shoes every Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday for the winter indoor track club practices. This indoor track club is called Flyers, and it’s been a large contribution to the running community in Morgantown. This club functions mainly with the volunteer help of the older runners in town, college age and up. Therefore, you can imagine the wide age range of runners that congregates in the small, modest university indoor track building.
Since I love helping with this club and watching the youngsters develop over the years, I have taken the position of back-up volunteer coach for the youngest group. This way, since my training is so heavy right now, I am not immediately in charge, but I still get to be involved when it works with my schedule. I have so much fun with these youngsters! They are tiny, full of energy, and we get to play games every practice like capture the flag!
There have been a few practices so far, and at the last practice, the woman who I usually help out was not there because she was recovering from a marathon and is a mother of two. So, this means I had full charge over a group of about 15 grade school aged children… oh boy! I had them do a short warm up, led them through stretches, form drills, striders, a small ladder track workout, cool down, and rewarded them with a game of capture the flag for the rest of the time they were there.
Small children can be so full of personality. One of young boys came up to me and told me he thought he might vomit after the ladder workout, but he did it with a grin on his face, so I don’t think it was that serious! They differ in so many ways at that age, too. I noticed two boys sprinting all out on the last lap of the workout, excited by how fast they could run, I had two girls jogging beside each other in conversation, and the youngest little girl starting out running as fast as she could until she got so tired she had to walk the rest of the lap.
Once the “hard” part was over though, they all magically regained their sprinting speed and energy during capture the flag. I was easily tagged since I had previously done a 15 mile workout and my agility and sprinting speed were lacking compared to their relatively fresh young legs! This made me realize how much more their young minds could develop, and maybe turn them into very good runners once they realized how much they can actually handle… but for now, I am just glad they can have fun playing games and exercising like kids should!
Helping with the kids at Flyers makes me remember how I used to play with my brothers and sisters for hours running, biking, climbing, and jumping without even realizing that I may have been building a foundation for my future as a marathoner. Maybe a child or two out of the group I work with will become a great athlete, or maybe not. Either way, I am happy to spend part of my winter helping them stay fit and have fun!
Thanks for reading!