At the recent cross-country camp, we had an opportunity to sit down and talk with fitness coaches Wendy Harper and Jacquelyn Whetzel about not only how things went at their week-long camp, but also how others can use running to better their health.
Here’s how the question and answer session went.
Question: How many runners, helpers, coaches were at the camp?
Answer: We had about 27 runners, two assistant coaches who were high school cross-country team members (Nate and Ben Tanner) that volunteered their time to help influence the runners, and the two of us as head coaches.
Question: What was the main focus of camp?
Answer: The main focus of camp was to prepare returning runners for our upcoming season beginning in August, to introduce new runners to the sport of XC, and to get the kids outside and off their electronics.
We also wanted to help build endurance in former runners and help encourage new runners that they can do anything they set their mind to do.
Question: Describe some drills and activities used.
Answer: We taught our runners pacing, how to run hills, how to sprint to the finish line and how to run on a trail vs. road running. We ran the trail at Bill Wood Park multiple times, played a lot of running and sprinting games, ran hill sprints and finish line sprints. We ended the week with a Mock Meet where parents and friends came to cheer on the campers at the finish line.
Question: Why do you do this?
Answer: I coach because I am not an athlete. I can’t catch a football easily, I can’t hit a softball well, and I can’t dribble a basketball. I was always the kid picked last. But every time I lace up my running shoes, I become a better runner.
Those kids who have never fit in on a team find their place on the trail with us, and can belong to a team no matter what running ability they have. If they put in the effort, they will be better runners at the end of our season. I want to inspire kids to see they are able to find a sense of accomplishment just by trying, and hopefully they will apply that to all areas of life as they get older. I wish someone had showed me that when I was younger.
I love to run and I love watching the runners reach their goals! They don’t have to compete against anyone else! They can learn to push themselves to reach the goal they set for themselves. But my number one reason is coaching those kids who say they “can’t run”. I watch them progress at each practice and before they know it they realize they can do it! It’s so rewarding and brings tears to my eyes.
Question: Can CC help athletes in other sports? How?
Answer: Running is the basis for the majority of sports. If you can run long distances, that makes you a faster base runner, faster on a soccer or football field, and faster on the basketball court. If you have the stamina to run 2-3 miles, your ability in other sports improves overall because you can focus on the mechanics of your sport without fear of tiring out. It absolutely can!
It helps build endurance so that they can run faster when playing other sports.
Question: Why would you recommend long distance running to young and old alike?
Answer: Running is a sport anyone can improve in with practice. While many kids dream of being professional athletes, the chance of that type of success is fairly slim.
You may be the star of the football team even through high school, but very few will make it past that level.
Anyone, at any age, can start running. And it’s a form of exercise that you can pick up or continue long after you receive your diploma.
Long distance running is so good for you in so many ways! One it helps build endurance for other sports!
It builds confidence that you didn’t know you had! It makes you stronger.. running takes a lot of energy! And running is therapy for so many people!
For me it helps me take my mind off of my everyday worries and helps me focus on me and my goals!
Question: What are the alternatives as a handicapped person who can’t walk; much less run?
For someone with limited mobility, I always recommend swimming. Depending on your ability, I also recommend a recumbent bike to my clients.