By Tina Jenkins Bell
BAPA School Liaison
BAPA’s 44th Ridge Run is set for Memorial Day, Mon., May 30. A major goal this year is attract more school teams and get more neighborhood kids out running.
“It would be wonderful if every school in the neighborhood is represented at the Ridge Run, wearing their school colors and spreading their school spirit,” said BAPA Executive Director Mary Jo Viero. “Kids have been isolated for so long because of COVID. The Ridge Run will be a great chance for them to spread their wings.”
In honor of the return of this popular community event to its rightful place on the calendar, The Villager will be sharing tips for youth runners from area school coaches. This month, coaches Emily Fitch from Morgan Park Academy and Andrew Quick from Kellogg School offer their advice.
Morgan Park Academy (MPA) Cross Country Coach Emily Fitch lives in the neighborhood with her family and has taught for MPA for 17 years.
“One of the things I love best about running is you are primarily competing with yourself in the sense of gaining progress by distance and or speed. However, both distance and speed are major earmarks, so I suggest focusing on one at a time. You’re more likely to feel successful and want to continue making progress if you don’t overwhelm yourself,” Fitch said.
Her advice for youth runners is:
Always make sure to sufficiently stretch before and after running. Injuries can happen if the body is not properly warmed up to run.
Set goals at the end of each practice run. For example, beginners may initially have run times of 15 minutes. A goal could be to shorten that run time, even if it’s only by a few seconds. Usually, runners are more motivated to do better the next time if goals are set at the end of a run.
Learning to pace yourself is one of the biggest keys to running. Sometimes it takes a little while and everyone’s body is different. Making sure that you leave energy for the end of a race to sprint to the finish line is important.
Along with pacing your running, monitoring your breathing can also allow for increased distance and speed. Counting breaths in and counting breaths out is one way to monitor and maintain steady breathing.
Drew Quick has been the Physical and Health Education Teacher at Kate Starr Kellogg School three years.
“At Kellogg, we strive to provide our students with the skills and understanding to be lifelong learners of physical health and wellness. This is achieved, in part, by our running programs both in class and after school,” Quick said.
Quick agrees with Coach Fitch about pacing. “My biggest tip to young runners would be to pace yourself. Especially when running distance, it is important to find a steady pace that works for you and stick to it. By pacing yourself you will ensure you are conserving your energy,” he said.
He also offers these two tips.
Be sure to drink a good amount of water to keep yourself hydrated. Water regulates body temperature, prevents cramps and injury, and helps you perform better.
Most importantly, have fun! Running is a great way to get out and exercise. By simply competing, you have already won.