I ran my last 2.6km today with Taiao. Four years ago our class made, what at the time was a gutsy and ambitious call, to run 2.6km on a daily basis. I never thought for a second that 4 years later we'd still be running! The motivation behind this was simple. As a school we observed a concerning trend with attitudes towards aspects of school deemed 'hard'. Students were simply giving up upon making their first mistake or in many cases, not attempting 'hard' things at all. We observed that students facing challenges that weren't providing instant gratification, success or tangible rewards were simply quitting or not tackling them at all. This was an alarming trend. As a result, we implemented the William Pike Challenge Award AND the daily run.
The expectation for the last 4 years has been that if it's fine, we'll be running. For many, this has been a massive challenge. In the beginning, students would come up with any excuse they could think of to 'get out' of the run. I have a 'poor excuses' (not 'reasons') folder on my desk that's bursting at its seams. Now, those same kids that were coming up with some of the most creative excuses of all time, have accepted the run as part of their daily routine. They wake up knowing that they'll probably have to run and that it will be hard. They are okay with this because their bodies and minds are reaping the rewards from being okay with this. They are okay with this because hard work works; because if something is hard, then it is worthwhile doing.
Yes, 'not every kid is a runner'. I get that. I get that more than most because I was that kid. I was far stronger in short distance runs and was terrible when Cross Country came around. In fact, Cross Country was one of the things I detested the most about primary school. Why? Because my attitude sucked. No one taught me about mental grit, resilience or the positive effects personal fitness can have on your wellbeing as a whole. No one taught me that I could personally benefit from saying 'yes' to challenges thatmade me scream 'no!' I didn't learn that until much later in life - namely, when joining Scouts and being sent on an Outward Bound course.
'Eating dirt' is a phrase coined by Steve Gurney. When he visited our school last year, he stated that our daily run is the best thing we could be doing for our students for all of the reasons listed above and more. He’s worked in schools across the country with thousands of kids and is shocked by the lack of good solid fitness programmes in schools. I’ve had old students come back from High School stating how much they miss the run because fitness programmes are geared more to much lower levels of fitness - by the time our guys start High School, they’re motivated, mean running machines!