Aby is 10 years old. She is very young 5th grader and she has the mentality of a kid. I’m a firm believer that she is at a very sensitive age and she needs guidance and structure but there isn’t much need to kill her in the workout realm. Running should be fun for her and if she doesn’t enjoy it then we encourage her to try band, choir, dance, martial arts, etc. whatever she would like to do to keep moving. Active children are GOOD, it’s tough on us but it really does keep them out of trouble.
Aby started asking to run races when she was really young, probably 4 or 5. I said, “No”. I kept telling her she couldn’t run a race until she could pronounce it. At the time, she called 5Ks a “K-5”. Once she was 6, I let her do a few kid races, like the Mini Muddy Buddy.
When she was 7 & 8, we were dealing with pregnancy & new baby fun with Mr. Michael.
When she was 9, I finally relented and let her start racing. Her race debut was the Ringing In Spring 5K in Valpo in April 2011 where she took her age group for the win. She didn’t stop racing, or placing, all summer. Ringing in Spring, Devil Dash 5K in Peotone, PTO 5K in New Lenox, Mokena Summertime Stride, Courthouse Classic in LaGrange, IN, Fort4Fitness 4 miler in Ft Wayne, IN. She ran these all herself, not with me. I ran my race, which some say is “mean” but my theory is that if she was old enough to want to do it, then she was old enough to push herself to the finish. And she did. Each and every time.
Apparently, the timing was right, she was having fun and we soon got notice that 5th graders could join the middle school kids for Cross Country. Wow, that was new; it wasn’t like that when I was a kid. So after a great summer of road racing, Aby turned 10 and moved into school sponsored running. Things changed. She was having fun during the summer, I would encourage her and cheer for her and it was very low key. The crowds were big at our local 5Ks so she always performed well in the pack and did well in her age group. Now she was competing with kids much older and stronger. She struggled but kept her head up and kept running. Although her school program was very underdeveloped, there were several young girls on the team who bonded and fought thru together. I was always around but since I was “mom”, Aby didn’t think I knew anything. If I tried to help, or give advice, she would roll her eyes, so I settled for the supportive “mom” roll and let her do her thing.
Then track season rolled around and the “fun” left with all the young distance runners who quit the track team. The middle school track system doesn’t allow much for distance runners anyhow, just the 1600 meters, which is a mile and basically it’s a full out sprint now. Super scary! Our little country school had two “distance” runners. One girl who went to state in Cross Country (yep, she is fast) and Aby. Gulp. It was a rough season, Aby put herself out there each and every time and got pulverized on the track. She doesn’t know how to sprint a mile. There wasn’t much coaching direction and parental intervention was a “No-No”. Aby was running but not competing, not focused, just running laps and she wasn’t having much “fun”. 😦
Although, she had a nice sprint to the finish in the last 100 meters, the race was over way before then. Hubby & I knew she was not even close to reaching her potential but she was frustrated so we continued to be supportive, encouraging parents. I told her that I would help her during the summer if she wanted but she didn’t care. Her best 1600 (mile) on the track was a 7:16. That’s a good mile time for anyone but not competitive with the girls on the track.
Last night I did my first triathlon brick. I biked 10 miles, then put on my running shoes and quickly ran to the end of our road & back. It was a whopping 1.4 mile run. Stellar, I know. When I hit the drive on my return, Aby wanted to be dropped a mile from the house to run a timed mile. So hubby dropped us off. My goal was to get her under 7 minutes but I didn’t tell her that. She ran hard, but not uncomfortable, I could tell she was running harder than I had seen her run all track season. I was watching our pace. She was fading. I was encouraging her to stay with me. To push. To just hang on. To focus. I also gave her tips to focus on her arms and her feet would follow, to run with her abs and not her legs. I slowed the pace to reel her in closer so she wouldn’t give up. I hit the mile at 7:05. She was a few steps behind, probably a 7:07! Not under 7 but damn good! Go Aby!
How many times do you thing we will have to do this during the summer? How long before she is the rabbit encouraging me to stay with her? How does a 10 year old run so fast? It’s going to be another exciting road racing season for us! Stay tuned and if you have any tips for this Mom-Coach-Rabbit, please let me know! Aby said I was hard on her, too hard, but that it was good and fun. 🙂
Cheers ** VERY Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz