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:
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!
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.
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