Call me “Coach Trail Boy”

When I pull on my running shoes and head out the door, I sometimes have to give myself a little pep talk.

“This is good for you.”

“This is just what you need.”

“You can take those hills.”

This morning was a little different. I was giving the pep talk to a group of middle schoolers. And I was running with them, helping them get in shape for their cross-country season, which starts next month.

Coach Trail Boy and son (Steven) run a lap around the field.

Stretch those quads for a 10-count.

Two eighth-graders run sprints. Oh, to have this kind of snap in my legs again!

Steven finishes a 400-meter sprint.

The workout is over. Let's get some water!

Mrs. Trail Boy took the bull by the horns on this one a few weeks ago. She organized an informal running club that meets two mornings a week this summer for runners at our middle school. The goal is to help them get a jump on the cross-country season.

Son No. 1 (Steven) runs cross-country and likes it, for the most part. This will be his fifth season. He started in fourth grade, back in Rubber City. He’s kept it up, through three schools and four coaches.

This morning, five kids and one dad showed up. I helped put them through the paces, doing warm-up laps, stretches, a few sprints, relay races, more loops and a cool down.

Of course, I ran along with them. You can’t call me Coach Fatty McFlubber. Today, my name is Coach Trail Boy.

I gave them lots of encouragement. “This is fun!” “It’s not that hot!” “You guys are going to be in great shape when the season starts!” “You’re not bleeding and nothing’s broken, so quit your whining and move it.”

OK, just kidding about that last one.

The workout lasted about 45 minutes. We all had fun, even the kids who were groaning. Then we were ready to start the day, full of energy and endorphins.

Later, Steven and I took our bikes to Town Run Trail Park, where I often run on a mountain-bike trail. We had fun pedaling around the dirt course, up and down jumps and drops and hills. Yep, we had a blast. Even when we missed a turn and went flying into the woods.

Hey, trails are great, any way you take them.

Tomorrow morning, I will lace up my shoes for my last long training run before the 50K on July 18. I won’t have any middle schoolers to keep me company. But if I start to fade, I’ll give myself a little pep talk.

I know how. I’m a coach.

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