Last spring, my son ran track for the local high school. He was still in eighth grade, which here, is middle school. But, kids can still run for the high school before they actually get there. Now, my son is a hurdler. He has run hurdles for about four or five years now and we’ve spent countless dollars and hours on hurdle lessons. The result is that he is a very good hurdler with awesome form. He just needs to grow taller, gain some muscle weight and get stronger. He held his own really well being smaller than most of the high school boys and he also ran the 110 meter high hurdles and the 400 meter hurdles for the first time. Last season, on his age-group team, he ran the 100 meter and 200 meter hurdles so high school hurdles was a big step up. I think he had a great season. Part of that reason for the great season (like my rhyme?) is because we asked (he would say forced) him to run cross country last fall.
My daughter, who is four and a half years younger, loves to run distance. I mean, she love, love, loves to run as far as she can and she’s just barely 10 years old. She had been begging me for a few years to run cross country and I finally felt like she was going to be able to run and not get lost in the woods. Since she was running, I did some research on hurdlers and found that many coaches think that hurdlers, especially 400 meter hurdlers, benefit from running cross country in the fall. Hence, the asking / coercion. In general, the age-group cross country team ran at most four to five miles on their long run days. The only time my son ran six miles straight was at the run-a-thon to raise money for the team. I don’t think he smiled even once during that hour. When he DID smile, was when he knocked four seconds off of his 400 meter dash last spring. He went from a 1:02 to a 58 second time and never went up again. He finally admitted that cross country helped!
When spring track was over for the high school, his coach emailed me and asked if he had ever considered running cross country and would he consider running for the high school this fall simply to get stronger and be in great shape for the spring. Ah, funny you should ask that Coach!
So once again the asking / coercion began again and my son is now running cross country for the high school. The JV kids on the high school team run a minimum of six miles at the practices. He doesn’t love it, but we keep telling him that when he drops another four, or more, seconds off of his spring track times he won’t think it was all that bad. He has been training with the team all summer in addition to running regular age-group track and my daughter finished spring /summer age-group track and is now on to her pre-season cross country runs with the age-group team. So, I too, am trying to run as much as possible because I learned last year that the only way for a parent to cheer at a cross country meet is to run from place to place along the course.
Do your kids run cross country? Do you try to practice running just so you can cheer, too? I’d love to hear about it!