I’m Not a Runner, But I’m Starting a Running Club for Elementary School Students

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

-Zig Ziglar

I am NOT a runner, but I’m starting a running club for my elementary school students.

Why? Because they need it and maybe because I need it, too.

The pandemic has helped make our youngest members of society even more inactive than they were already becoming. Couple this with growing up in a rural and impoverished community, your outlook on life or even the benefits of being active become rather cloudy.

I was working with our after-school program one evening and the children were engaged in their “30 minutes of physical activity,” amid the complaints and groans of “this is too hard, why do we have to do this?” I witnessed children as young as kindergarten who could barely bend their knees, touch their toes, or even run in place for longer than 30 seconds without stopping and gasping for air. They looked like miniature old people (no slight to our senior citizens because some lead extremely active lifestyles that will put any young person to shame!)

I couldn’t help thinking “What is happening to our children?!” It made me question my own physical activity and how I was taking it for granted. How I was not as consistent as I needed to be with moving my body, knowing my body needs movement to be able to function properly for me as I age. I questioned whether I was being a good role model for them.

Being academically sound is just one piece of the puzzle.

As I looked around the gymnasium at my students’ faces, I couldn’t help thinking how running and jumping and bending should be a right of childhood. How moving can be fun and make you feel better. What I saw were children who were being robbed from the joys of childhood that involved running around and playing outside. What I saw were children who were headed for a future of physical ailments and health issues if they did not incorporate regular physical activity into their lives.

In schools, we are setting foundations for attitudes and behaviors that our children will take into adulthood that are supposed to help them to thrive, survive, and be productive members of society. But what are we modeling? What foundations are we setting? Are we guilty of perpetuating unhealthy lifestyles for them?

Then, out of nowhere it seems, I got the idea “start a running club.” I laughed and engaged in an internal debate with this “voice.”

Me: Running club? Noooo!

The Voice: Yes!

Me: Man, I am not a runner! What can I teach them?

The Voice: You can learn with them.

Me: Yeeeahhh, I could (apprehensively, insert thinking emoji here)…

The Voice: If you dont introduce them to it, who will? What will happen in their lives if you don’t?

Me: A running club, though?

The Voice: Yes. You run (no pun intended) the after-school program. Why not? Give them something to go with those reading and mathematics clubs.

Me: True. What if I fail?

The Voice: You might. But start it anyway.

So, my elementary school running club was born. I began researching if running clubs were even plausible for students in grades K-6. Turns out, they are everywhere! The Road Runners Club of America recommends in their FUNdamentals of Youth Running: Focus on participation and self-improvement. They assert “In elementary school, running should be about participation and developing a healthy lifestyle, not about being the fastest kid in the school or program. Save competition for middle and high school aged students.”

This is exactly what I wanted to be the focus for my young people. I saw this as a sign that maybe this is an assignment for me while I’m here working at this new school and why I may have been selected to run the program. Maybe there were some providential things at work.

I am NOT a runner, but I’m starting a running club for my elementary school students.

I have started running. I have stopped running. I have said I could do it. I have said there’s no way I can do this! Why have I not been able to let running go?

I felt excitement bubbling up on the inside. I thought “Yes, let’s do this and see what happens!”

I took a moment to create the promotional materials to introduce to the students and their parents who were a part of the after-school program.

So, on this Monday, the running club will be introduced to my students and for those that sign up…on this Thursday, we will start.

On THIS Thursday, we will learn to run together, by first starting to walk, then run slowly…very slowly.

Who knows why I was given this idea? Maybe this is one of my assignments while I’m here on this planet.

I always encourage my college-aged sons to “write a different narrative” for the family. I feel this running club may inspire or motivate these young people to write a different narartive for their families and for themselves, and get healthy along the way.

I am NOT a runner, but I’m starting a running club for my elementary school students.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” –

John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running

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The Running Rebel

Just a below average runner sharing her running journey and keeping it real.


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