fitness

Run and read and repeat

I recently posted a story on our Facebook page about a school that had kids running a short distance each day. I had mixed feelings but readers of our Facebook page weren’t fans. I reminded them that I was sharing things of interest, not necessarily things we’d all agree about, and also that it’s unlikely we’d all agree about everything anyway. The blog and our Facebook page promote “big tent” feminism. Yes, play nicely but we don’t all need to agree about all things fitness and feminism related.

I blogged about the controversy.

I put it behind me until the other morning when I was attending a university community outreach breakfast. At 7 am, because it’s the sort of things deans do, I found myself eating croissants and fruit salad and drinking coffee with local politicians and school board leaders.

Here’s three deans in polka dots:

There was a panel discussion of the university’s impact on the local community and one of the speakers thanked our students for work they do in the schools. She talked about program that I’d never heard about before, a running and reading club.

You can read about it here

The Running & Reading Club Program takes place directly within local schools, and runs for two hours one day per week from October to June. The program culminates in the Start2Finish 5K Running & Reading Challenge and an awards ceremony recognizing each child’s achievement at the end of the school year.

What I like best about the run and read program is the combination. When I was in elementary school my identity was ‘bookworm.’ The local bookmobile librarians brought books especially for me. They joked about running out of books.

There was a running club but it never occurred to me that it was for me. I was an academic overachiever. I loved school. I loved books. I might have also loved running but in my day you were either sporty or you were smart. I was definitely committed to the latter. And I missed out.

By the time I got to high school there were high achieving school athletes. But by then another divide had emerged. The kids who did school sports and who excelled academically were wealthy. They didn’t work. I was thrilled to have a secure part time job. It didn’t even occur to me that if I didn’t I might be able to fit school sports or the running club in.

Anyway, I’m inclined to like the idea of run and read.

What do you think? Were you a smartie person, a sporty person, or both?

10 thoughts on “Run and read and repeat

  1. I would love to see more multi-disciplinary emphasis like this, even more so where things like math, reading, sport and creativity can genuinely combine. I was a math nerd, book worm, sporty and theatre geek who often felt like a Jill of all trades that dipped my toes in many worlds, but didn’t really fit comfortably in any one. Happily, I’m now a midlife engineer plus recreational circus artist. I’ve finally found a world where my random bag of interests actually come together!

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  2. Yes! I actually thought of myself as a non athlete, and it wasn’t until I met met my “sporty” husband at 19 and he did things like take me hiking and bike riding that I saw I could be both a bookworm and like moving. It has been one of the greatest things about adulthood, realizing I didn’t have to be one thing and that I could dabble in many interests. I still lean “bookstore” but I enjoy the physical activity I do engage in however little it might be at certain times of my life. My husband has been opposite. He still, at 44, slips into saying “well, I’m not smart” but tackles any physical pursuit with total confidence. The idea that we can embrace all sides to ourselves , even if we are stronger in some than others, is definitely something I’ve tried to model for our ten year old. This post is a good reminder for me since perimenopause and autoimmune flare ups have me feel a sour about my physical abilities lately.

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  3. I was totally the bookworm, editor-of-the-school-paper, organizer of the rebellion against the school uniform type. We had to run in gym class and I remember not hating it the way everyone else was complaining about it (though we had no showers in our school, and had to put our uniforms back on all sweaty, which was horrible) — and I remember one of the coaches telling my mother (who taught at my school) that I was a good runner. I just totally dismissed it because I couldn’t reconcile the identities of Smart Kid and Sporty Kid. (I associated sporty girls with the Feminine sports like gymnastics, figure skating and cheerleading — we must have had girls’ teams but we didn’t have pep rallies for them like we did with the boys).

    I love this reading and running thing. In fact I’m going to do it today.

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  4. Yes to reading and running programs! I was the smart kid, even though my mom pushed me to play tennis starting at age 7, and I was good at it (I won a kiddie tournament at 10). But somehow in middle and high school there was no room– logistically or conceptually– for me to be smart and sporty. When I played tennis in gym, the coach just ignored how good I was. Ditto for track and field– turns out I was great at shot put (better, in fact, than the shot putter on my high school team), but again the coach put me off when I mentioned something about this. Everyone around me plus me thought in narrow categories– smart or sporty but not both.

    It wasn’t until I got to grad school that I rediscovered sportiness. At MIT, no less– they have more intramural sports than most other schools, and they have them at all levels. I got introduced to squash and played on a team for years. I even played D-league volleyball– I was terrible (really– believe me) but had a rollicking good time. And I’ve been enjoying myself ever since.

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  5. I love the read-run club idea. I too was a bookish student with no sense of athletic identity (because we were, as you say, either bookish or sporty). Having an opportunity to think of myself as both from an early age could’ve been life changing.

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  6. SAME HERE, gang. I was the bookish kid who excelled at school but was an absolute misfit in every other way. I remember enjoying sports in elementary school but not being good at the ones that were community-sanctioned (IE: ‘everyone is doing it’): jazz dance, gymnastics, softball. I have not-great hand-eye coordination and that was a killer. I was also not super feminine and between grades 2 and 3 became chubby so was marginalized for that.

    I remember winning some track stuff as a kid and enjoying that; I remember getting into a track and field tournament in junior high and yet somehow finding a way to get out of it again… though I can’t remember why. I was a pretty scared, nervous kid – long, long story – and preferred to hide at home when I wasn’t in school.

    A lot of the trouble was with teacher and school attitudes, I think; I’m often amazed that teachers did not see signs of my depression and anxiety when they were just right there in everyone’s face, BLARING. But it was the 1980s. I can imagine more encouragement to work on sports I would have been good at would have really helped my self esteem.

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  7. Huh. I’ve never before realized that this was something my parents did well–we were encouraged to casually play sports from a young age. So even though I’ve a had a strong bookworm identity since I was little, I’ve always also known I can be sporty.

    I think a lot of us reinforce the stereotypes too. In the bookish community (blogs/Twitter, esp.) we joke and make memes and tweets denigrating our fitness and down-playing our extra-bookish hobbies. I’ve blogged before about how important it is that a lot of authors talk about how movement helps them with story.

    All that to say….a read and run club sounds excellent!

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  8. I was both sporty and smart as a kid involved in competitive swimming and an avid reader. Where I felt I had to choose was between science and art – abandoning the drama classes I loved for more serious pursuit of science. When injury ended my swimming career at age 16, followed by an awkward move to a new city in the middle of high school, I found I no longer had my built in social network from being on a sports team, and wish I could have entered the warm embrace of the theatre group at school to make friends. The advisor at my new school recommended taking gym as an elective to more easily meet people and he was right. That there is a school program combining running and reading makes me glad that there is a forum for social connection for kids who might otherwise be more solitary. Today, while I work in a science field, my social networks are mainly through my exercise group and volunteering at my local theatre.

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