It happens in most schools, and it happened in mine. As soon as you get to senior school or sixth form it becomes uncool to spend your lunch break running around the school football pitches, or your weekend in a muddy field somewhere for a cross country race or training. Your friends all start going out and spending their time doing other things, and continuing to run and race means missing out on weekend plans, or sometimes getting teased for what you choose to spend your time doing. As a result, a lot of people, both boys and girls, but I can only convey the experience of a teenage girl fro my own experience, give up running when they reach senior school. It can be sad to see, as some very talented people waste their potential because they don’t want to be seen as ‘uncool’. I had times growing up where I was called weird for going on runs or people would think you odd for spending your spare time training, but I wouldn’t have changed anything and I am so glad I never gave the sport up at school.
I think a lot of young people would be proud they never gave the sport up further down the line, but it’s keeping them in the sport when it is seen to be ‘uncool’ that is the difficult part. So, how can we help keep people in the sport during senior school?
Join an athletics club.
One way we are made to feel that running isn’t cool, is because it can feel as though we are the only one who likes running. Something I didn’t experience until coming to university, was going to an athletics club (where I was introduced to the amazing Gees). If children are encouraged to attend out of school athletics clubs, they soon see that there are a lot of other children with the same interest. Suddenly running because exciting again and new friendship groups can be developed with people who have the same interests. Athletics clubs encourage and facilitate the development of a child’s running in an environment where it is seen to be the norm.
Invite people in to talk.
When heading into senior school, being a runner can make you feel slightly isolated. You see all your friends around you doing other things and you can begin to feel as though you are missing out spending time with them when running. It can be easy to lose sight of where persistence and consistency can lead you. If children are exposed to people who have continued running through school and have gone on to be successful, they may feel inspired to do the same. Inviting international runners into schools to talk can show children that you can be an exciting individual and still run! If they are able to talk to and listen to people who didn’t give up on running and have succeeded in the sport as a result, it may inspire them to do the same. This may help make them feel as though they aren’t the only ones who have struggled to keep doing a sport they love because they are worried of what their friends may think of them.
The more running related events and races schools take their pupils to, the more children are able to develop a team bond and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with the sport. Going to races more regularly and making the experience an enjoyable one, allows children to see that running isn’t all that bad. Ultimately, the main reason for children running through school and into their teenage years is because they enjoy it. If we can help make running exciting, enjoyable, and appealing, less children will drop out when they reach senior school.
We need to do our best to show kids in school that running isn’t ‘uncool’ or silly, it is in fact a sport that should be supported throughout a child’s school life.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!