A Mile a Day helps Kids Work, Rest and Play

For a while now I’ve been worried about how little active time our kids get at school (specifically in primary schools.) I mean properly active, as in get out of breath and rosy cheeked type active. Both from my own experience with my kids’ school but also from a recent read of some Sport England research that looked at, amongst other things, the age when girls stop wanting to ‘do sport’. It’s dropped from 13 (bad enough) to 6 (horrendous). As the Mum of a 5 year old girl, I feel like we don’t have time to waste!

Reading about a school in Scotland that introduced an initiative where all the kids run for a mile a day every day, and the impact it had on the kids concentration and energy levels got me thinking. Here’s the article if you fancy a read. What they’ve done is fantastic:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-33006631

When I get to thinking it’s a very dangerous place. I become a bit like a dog with a bone, I just can’t put ideas down. It’s probably part of the reason I’m a raging insomniac, but I’m working on that one already so I digress.

So I approached my daughters school, told them about the initiative and offered to help them get it off the ground. Our Head is brill and very pro PE which I’m sure is half the battle. But there were worries about how to fit 15 minutes into a jam packed school day. 

Which – as an aside -I found a bit depressing. The thought that my 5 year old’s day is so jam packed with school stuff that there isn’t a spare 15 minutes to run around in the playground. But I totally get the pressures that schools and teachers are under, and they must be equally as depressed about it. So that’s a story for another day.

Anyway. They agreed to a trial. 

One year group (Year 5) for 2 weeks.

I hoped for more, but it’s is a start and I’m happy with that. First steps etc

I went in yesterday and we did the first session. I told the kids I’m a running coach and asked them what they thought I did. Apparently I’m ‘training people to run in the Olympics’, so one of you better have your flights to Rio booked!

coaching

I asked them what they thought was good about running and got everything from ‘it helps you lose weight’ (hmmm) to ‘it makes you feel amazing’ (it does!) and ‘you get to be outside more’ (yes!!)

And then we went outside and did the session.

The school doesn’t have a playing field so it was on the playground. 16 loops of the same playground – some of the kids had measured the route in their maths lesson earlier – which isn’t immensely inspiring.  But in an inner city school, you work with what you’ve got right?

They ran round and round for 15 minutes. They buddied up with someone they maybe didn’t know. We did little fun nonsense things at the corner like high fives and jumping jacks with silly faces. Mostly me and they looked at me like I was a bit of a crazy middle aged woman. Which to be fair, I am (*sob*).

But they ran round and round. And I felt a teeny bit weepy. It was actually proper emosh. I’d go as far as to say it was bloody magical!

Kids who said they couldn’t for the first few laps, suddenly felt the endorphins kick in and started smiling. You could literally see it happening before your eyes.

One boy spent the first 14 laps saying he couldn’t do it. But kept going. And on the 15th suddenly said, ‘I’m loving this’. And did 3 more laps than he needed to. Which made my day an infinitely better one.

There were a few lessons. Pacing being the unsurprising one. But frankly grown adults struggle to pace themselves beyond 100 metres, so we can hardly expect 10 year olds not to sprint flat out for the first few laps and then crawl round the rest.

Keeping it fun (and not a race) is going to be interesting and I can feel a tortoise and hare chat coming on.

tortoise-and-hare-bugs-learns-a-lesson

There is already talk of a Pyjama run which the teachers are delighted about. [Why are ALL kids so obsessed with going to school in their PJs?]

A couple of them said they had never really felt out of breath before and they weren’t sure they liked it.

I know, right? Reason enough right there for doing stuff like this.

I told them, feeling out of breath is a GOOD thing. It makes your heart and lungs stronger, it makes you fitter and healthier.

If it feels too much though, slowing down is OK too.

Not everyone loved it. But they all – all 60 0f them – did it.

And it was brilliant. I left and they were all still whooping and doing the ‘Mobot’ for completing their ‘first mile’. 

I hope it’s the first Mobot of many.

If yesterday is anything to go by, I’m sure we’ll have hundreds of magical Mobot moments.

It doesn’t get much better than that for me.  I can’t think of many better things to be spending a lunchtime – or any time – doing.

If you are keen to know more or get involved, send me a sign. There’s important work to be done Mamas!

Happy running all x

10 thoughts on “A Mile a Day helps Kids Work, Rest and Play

  1. therveysheffieldacuk

    Lovely! I like the “keep it simple” aspect of this. In my kids’ primary school they do “marathon club” in the summer term after school once week. Parents, grandparents and big siblings in the high school next door join in. They measured one lap of the playground, and made charts with a sticker for each lap, calculating how many stickers make a half and whole marathon (sneaky maths). Each time you do a lap, you get a sticker. When someone gets their half marathon, a bell is rung so everyone knows, you get a certificate in assembly, etc. You can run, walk, etc – over a term, about 50-70 people get their half marathon and about 20-30 a full marathon.

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  2. twosusies

    Yay let me be the first to comment. This is awesome. You should be mightily impressed with yourself. In anything the getting started is the hardest bit, so give yourself a big pat on the back.What you have probably already thought of is that you could do a lot worse than make this into research, so chart those kids progress, before and after indicators for well-being, mood, application to study. It doesn’t need to be rigorous, but you will (figuratively) kick yourself if you make this (and I hope you do) a regular part of the school curriculum, but don’t have any data to support expanding this initiative elsewhere.

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    1. thismumrunsuk

      Thanks so much for your message of support! You’re right getting this started has not been straightforward so to have a pilot off the ground is super exciting. One of our This Mum Runs community contacted me today as she’s a researcher at University of Bristol with an interest in childrens health. I’m hoping we can run a little research project alongside – as youre totally right, factual evidence is going to have a lot more weight than anecdotal stuff if we want to get some traction in other schools. I’ll keep you posted if youre interested?

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  3. lynsey mckean

    This has really inspired me. I am a parent and a Reception class teacher. I have just started running with my 10 year old and hope the 6 year old will join in. I am sure my Head teacher would love this idea in our school. We have a massive playing field.
    Do you need to be a running coach to introduce the concept to children? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. thismumrunsuk

      Hi Lynsey
      So pleased its inspired you to want to do something too! And if you’ve got a massive playing field definitely make the most of it!! You don’t need to be a qualified coach to get something like this started, as its just about getting the kids moving rather than coaching them anything specific. Key things are making it fun and helping the kids pace themselves. Getting the schools buy in is half the battle as they are already so stretched. We’re going to run a little research project alongside our pilot to try and prove the benefits so I will keep you posted on that. Happy to chat to you or your Head about how we’re approaching it xx

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  4. Katherine

    A fantastic idea! My little girl is about to turn three and is currently into everything – the thought she might give up by the time she’s 6 is depressing. Maybe I should start a family run at weekends?!

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    1. thismumrunsuk

      I know its scary, right? She’s probably a little young to be going for an actual run…but get her a pair of her own trainers and a little bit of walk running at the park would be a fab way of introducing her to it. Have you got a Junior parkrun near you? They offer free 2k runs for kids from 4+ and are a really fantastic way of introducing kids into running. let me know how you get on….I hope we will do more too and will keep you posted!

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  5. Catherine

    Hi there, I heard the head teacher of the school in Scotland talking about this on radio 4. I was so inspired that I mentioned it to the head of school, but he said our school is too small. I have a six year old boy in year two and would love for him to run every day. Are you able to contact me and let me know kwhoch school it is you are working with. I’m hoping it’s the school my son goes to. I would love to support you in extending the initiative to younger children, if you need help encouraging the head teachers.

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    1. thismumrunsuk

      Hi Catherine, apologies for missing your comment! The school we’re trialling this at is Ashton Gate in Bedminster. What school is your Son at? I also hope to extend this across all year groups and to other schools so will keep you posted x

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