Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Inaugural Walk/Jog/Run Class Race

Every semester in my Walk/Jog/Run class at UAH, my students have the option to either participate in a local 5k or write two article reviews for their final exam. Usually about half the class or less will run a 5k. Scheduling problems, money shortage, or simple nervousness about entering an actual race leave the other students to write article reviews...in a running class.  I've never really liked this, wanting students to be able to put their 5k training to the test, but it was the best I could come up with at the time (which seems so silly now, but moving on...).

Each class is different, having a different personality and atmosphere, but overall I can honestly say every class has been great. By the end of the semester, students who were too shy or too cool have warmed up to me and there is a feeling of camaraderie because we've all been running together for several weeks.

I absolutely LOVE teaching this class and each semester I learn a little more about how to make it even better for my next set of runners. I am constantly tweaking and hopefully improving the Walk/Jog/Run experience for my students, trying to make it motivating and challenging, informational and fun for all types of walkers and runners.  I've had some students take their running to a full sub 4 hour marathon and other students take my class more than once in order to have running buddies and accountability.

This spring semester I had another great group - my biggest class so far - which was really exciting. The spring semester is difficult, however, in that it is shorter than other semesters because we have to wait for daylight savings time so we aren't running in the dark each evening (the class starts at 5:30 pm). We have about 7 weeks total to train for a 5k and then it is up to chance whether or not a local race will fit into the end of the program. This year it did not, leaving many students with article reviews. Well, this class revolted. They told me flat out they did not want to write article reviews, they wanted to race.

They wanted to have our own class race, and after asking the students who had already raced if they minded me changing it up (they agreed it was okay), I made a race date for this Monday's class time, making it mandatory for all of those who had not already run a local race. They were pumped and so was I.

I came home that night and talked with Jason.  He loves this sort of thing and he was full of good ideas. We decided to look through our old race numbers and race medals so that everyone could have a number and a finisher's award. The problem was, Mrs. Anti-Hoarder (me) had thrown them all away except for the special ones. So I called my mom.  She had a ton of both so she brought them to me Monday before class, and she and Dad kept the kids so Jason could help me with the race.

Every student got a used race number from a different race and upon finishing they all got a medal won or received at different races. They thought this was hilarious as we all pinned on our used race numbers and walked to the start line.  Jason sent us off and kept time, and I ran the route with my students. It was 2.8 miles because I didn't have time to make a better route on such short notice, but my students were a little relieved since the class duration hadn't allowed for many longer runs anyway.  I chose an out-and-back route which crossed no stop lights and most of my students had already run for safety purposes.

I placed 4th, having three students who could beat me.  About 5-6 students had already raced and some chose not to race again, which was their choice...although I must say they missed out. It was an absolute blast and I can honestly speak for the whole class.

Everyone was proud of themselves and I saw students talking with one another who didn't usually. Everyone was smiling and laughing, glad to be finished.  Jason and I had fun too and I believe I have now discovered yet one more improvement to the class.  From now on Walk/Jog/Run will have our own free-of-charge, scheduled at the end of our training, class race. I am already looking forward to it, and I cannot wait for next semester!

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