Actually, I want to be a novelist when I grow up. But second choice definitely would be a P.E. coach. Today I got a call to substitute 7th grade P.E. (Physical Education). I remember 7th grade. Do you? I hated it. Much better to teach it than to be it, that’s for sure!
First time ever I got to wear shorts to a job. First time ever I got paid to run! First time also, that I got to talk to the regular teacher on the phone before my sub assignment. She was a lovely lady who obviously had genuine concern and care for her students. She told me that they had to RUN their laps.
Oh the joy! Fun, fun, fun!!!
The agenda was: run 1 lap around the track, do exercises and stretches on the black top, run another lap around the track, then play basketball or “free-play.”
The students were surprised when I took off running with them. I thought, “What a perfect opportunity to get a little running in today!” But how to get the kids to run? There’s some kids who are runners and there’s no problem getting them to run. But most of the kids, they just don’t want to run (like me when I was their age), and so unless they have a reason to, they don’t run.
This is how I got them to run: I hollered, “Don’t let me pass you!” And so I took off at my regular long distance pace, moseying around the track. There were students who DO NOT run in general, pretty much ever. I gave them words of encouragement, told them to just push themselves a little bit harder every time they ran, and eventually they’d be able to run the whole lap. The other students, the majority, enjoyed my game of “Don’t Let The Old Lady Pass You.”
One boy said, “I’m going to walk and she’s not going to pass me!!” He kept looking behind his shoulder, smiling wide, walking faster and faster, pumping his arms like an engine. That’s when I kicked it in just for kicks. As I passed him, he yelled, “Oh shit!” That’s when he started running. Of course he passed me. The best thing was, he was smiling. And I overheard another 7th grader say, “That was so much fun!”
I used this tactic pretty much every time, running my long distance speed until the last tenth of the track. Then I’d run my 5k pace. The kids would literally scream and pick up their pace so that I wouldn’t pass.
During my last period of the day, 2 boys “too cool to run,” said to me when I passed as they walked the track, “What happens if you pass us?”
I said, “Then you got passed by a fifty-year-old lady.” I laughed out loud as these two boys took off running at the thought by being passed by a “50-year-old lady.” (I’m not fifty by the way, it just sounded better than 47).
Later these same too-cool-to-run boys thought they’d have some fun with me and ran backwards just ahead of me, smirking and giggling (yes, middle school boys giggle.) I smiled, then at the last moment, I kicked it in and increased my speed. These guys practically tripped over their feet as they hastily turned around and headed toward the finish. There was no way they were going to be passed by a 50-year-old lady. So funny. So fun. I guess I’m just a kid too. (Just don’t look like one).