Down with the kids

FOR my first session after the Great North Run, I decided to try something different. I’ve signed up to four sessions training with a group targeting the cross-country season. And while I have no intention of setting foot on the cross-country racing circuit, I did think it would help my 10k training and my ambition of breaking 40 minutes.

So, last Saturday morning I went along to meet a different group in a different area, not really knowing what to expect. Despite taking a few wrong turns, I was the first to arrive. I sat in the car with Chris, and waited and waited, and couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous.

I stared out of the car window. A car pulled up and three children jumped out. They raced over to a big rock in the middle of the field, and immediately started climbing it, then they were off the rock and racing back to their parents. I felt exhausted just watching. They were obviously here for a morning in the park. They wouldn’t be running would they?

More people started to arrive. I say people, but they were young people, very young. Children, in fact, aged about ten, and they were all here to train for the cross-country. I remained in the car, hoping that no one spotted me. When they started running, I’d drive away.

A few more children arrived. Some of the mums were in sports gear. Perhaps they were running too? I stayed seated, keeping my fingers firmly crossed.

‘Come on!’ One of the mums was heading my way. ‘You can’t stay in the car forever.’

I’d been spotted. I stuck my head out of the window. ‘I daren’t get out!’ I said. ‘Are you running too?’

She nodded. I did a silent cheer and got out of the car.

I was hoping the coach would separate us into two groups. Old folk to one side, young up-and-coming athletes to the other, but he didn’t. We were one group – young and old training together on a Saturday morning. ‘It’s fine,’ I told myself. ‘It’ll be fine.’

But then the coach gave me the job of pacing. He told four of the boys that they had to stay behind me. I looked at the boys as they bounded about. They looked fast. They looked to have loads of energy. They did not look like they’d been out for curry, cake, and a few drinks the night before!


I was beginning to panic. They’d want me to run fast. They didn’t want some old woman messing up their training. Off we went. They stuck to me: two either side, two behind. I could hear them breathing. It scared me! I went faster, too fast. A glimpse at my watch said under six-minute mile pace. I was going to die. Down the back straight they started racing, pushing on, elbows jabbing to get past. Not being used to the argy-bargy, I let out a little scream.

My legs felt wobbly, and this was only the first rep. We had a three-minute recovery. ‘Was that fast enough?’ I asked. ‘I don’t want to hold you back.’

One of the younger boys said it was too fast. ‘We’ll go slower this time,’ I told him, feeling rather relieved. ‘You two?’ I pointed at two brothers who were super speedy and falling over themselves to get past me. ‘Please can you run with Chris? You’re going to kill me.’

After such a fast first rep, I knew I’d get slower. This was the one consistent thing. I got slower and slower and slower. My stomach sloshed about so much I thought last night’s curry might reappear. Thankfully, I was spared the embarrassment.

I completed the session with the children, who I have to say were lovely and such amazing runners and so competitive. ‘I think I enjoyed that,’ I told Chris. ‘What great kids.’

The boys ran to meet their parents, while I staggered back to the car. ‘I wonder what they thought about me?’ I said. ‘I mean, I’m old enough to be their mother!’



  1. 22nd September 2016 / 7:55 pm

    Congratulations on working with the kids! Didn’t it make you feel so great to be helping influence people with an activity you love?
    I’m off to do the same right now! Found out about 30 kids and their teacher who are trying to start a running club at their middle school 11-13 year olds). Can’t wait to go help out!!

    • 23rd September 2016 / 1:36 pm

      I loved it! I can’t wait for this Saturday. Thirty kids sounds a challenge. Do you work with them a lot?

      • 23rd September 2016 / 1:43 pm

        Yesterday was my first day. There were 2 other adults there. So the numbers worked out. And wow was it awesome! I loved seeing their pride in accomplishing their goal! This group is not in shape at all, but they were so proud to finish 2 miles. Have fun tomorrow!

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