This is the fifth year that I have been timing students in the mile run. They will run 4 laps around the quarter-mile track at the YMCA on Macadam Ave on either May 4th, May 5th, or May 6th during their gym class. I am very excited about our progress this year. I feel the students have far outpaced their previous levels of readiness for this event. Last week was our final week of base training. Basically I have shown each child that they can cover MORE than a mile running. What I am extremely impressed with is the fact that these PE classes are NOT a track team. They are your average cross section of PE students and as such, I would expect the normal distribution curve of effort and performance when it comes to something as obscure as distance running. The results that I am seeing across the board are anything but a bell-shaped curve.
Each grade level had two PE classes last week, call them 'A' and 'B'. Listed is the required distance I had them complete:
Grade Class A Class B
1st 1 1/6 miles 1 1/2 miles
2nd 1 1/2 mile 2 miles
3rd 2 miles 2 miles
4th 2 1/6 miles 3 miles
5th 2 1/6 miles 3 miles
A significant number of students ran FURTHER than these requirements, the most extreme was a first grade boy who ran 4 miles in 44 minutes! In summing up the total number of laps completed, I counted 568 miles run in the last week alone, this is based on a loose measurement I made of just under 6 laps around our circuit being a mile. Also in the week, I handed each student who ran the mile last year a little piece of paper with their last year's mile time on it. Even though they were running further than the mile, many more than half of them came through the mile mark (6th lap) at or below their times from last year.
There is no mystique about running a mile to these kids. Please take the time to ask them about how it feels to run so far already knowing they can run further than the mile.
Finally I wanted to share what was an off-hand comment by one student that was music to my ears. When the upper 4th and 5th graders see me around school they always ask me how far we will be running in the next class, after last class of 18 laps, they could only wonder with a bit of trepidation what next week would bring. So when I was asked what they would be running next week (meaning this week as of this printing) I said...6 laps. The student sighed a big sigh of relief and was truly happy to say, "YES, only a mile, that will be easy!"