I know a lot of runners say that running without any gadgets sets you free and allows you to enjoy the run. I am not one of those runners, unfortunately. I need my iPhone with me for music and for the regular announcements on my progress (distance every 1km, time every 10mins). I run with the Runmeter app and having tried various different ones including MapMyRun and RunKeeper, it is my favourite. But even the best fail sometimes… Or maybe I should blame my iPhone for this epic GPS fail…
No, I wasn’t chasing after butterflies or cute personal trainers. I was running around the track doing my tempo run (15 min warm-up, 20 min fast, 15 min cool-down). Not entirely sure what my phone thought it was doing. The map is supposed to be my tracking but instead looks like a kid’s doodle. It was my first run post-up where I focused on trying to go faster and I am beyond annoyed that I cannot actually check what my pace was.
The best I can do is look at my heart rate which quite clearly shows the increase after the 15 min warm-up when the fast run started. I am a complete novice when it comes to understanding any of the science of running (I am a doer, not a thinker..) but 180 bpm strikes me as a tad high. From the bit of googling I have done I have come to the conclusion that I am probably a high/fast beater – my heart rate is always quite high even when I am doing a “comfortable” run.
The track I did the run on, is at the local Recreation Ground. It is free to use and available for everyone. There were a few runners doing their training, some walkers and even a woman pushing a pram (not sure why you would go to the track for that). And then there were two separate schools doing PE lessons with secondary school aged kids. One school had a mixed class of boys and girls doing sprints (“Sprinters”) and the other school was all girls doing running (“Girls”). From the snippets I could understand running past, I gather the Girls were asked to run/walk for 15 minutes. To reveal my true colours as the grumpy old woman that I am, I was annoyed by the lack of respect these kids had for the other track users. The Girls took over the whole width of the track before their lesson had started and the teacher didn’t seem to give a toss. Cue a very dirty look from me after which they were herded to one side. The Sprinters however were constantly being shouted at to stay out of the way of other people using the track and I felt like waving my thanks to the guy in charge. Ok, moan over I will now get to the point (which is actually also a bit of a moan).
These kids were so unmotivated/unfit/uninterested. Most of them had no PE kit on, they were running in their school uniforms and their normal shoes. They must have been lovely and fragrant for the rest of the day… And out of the group of maybe 20+ Girls, there was only one who seemed to actually be able to run. The rest spent their time moaning and bitching and doing short jogs of 20 seconds before having to walk again. By the end of the 15 minutes the track was littered with lost shoes, girls in tears or on the verge of vomiting.
I am the mother of a 13-year old and I know how hard it is to get her interested in exercise of any kind. I know she loathes the idea of running or doing anything that might make her sweat. But witnessing the PE lessons made me even more determined to get her interested in something that would get her out of the house and off her arse. I am afraid that being forced to run around the track like that is going to make every single one of those girls hate running. I know from experience, having been forced to ski at school in the winter, how easily that can happen – I would never ski voluntarily now. Wouldn’t it be much more beneficial to teach these kids that running is first of all about the head as much as it is about what your body can do. Take them off the track and bring them to the park. Let them run with their music on . Explain that it isn’t about how fast you can go or how far, it is about enjoying it and finding out that your limits can be stretched. Running in groups can be a great help, except when the group is toxic and not motivated by helping you keep going. Change their attitudes and you will have kids who will actually want to do exercise rather than associate it with the pain and humiliation.
And hey, I don’t think it would hurt to get these teens out there to run their anger and frustration out voluntarily rather than have them venting it at home.