As anyone who follows this blog or my Twitter feed knows well, running has not only become an essential part of my exercise routine and a marathon-sized stress reliever, but it also has served as an engagment opportunity with students and colleagues across Atlanta Public Schools… some of my favorite BFFs are my run buds.
We’ve run hundreds – perhaps thousands – of miles together for exercise, fun, fellowship and causes.
It’s hard to believe that it was more than four years ago when I formed my first APS running club, which eventually ran the East Atlanta Village RunFest. Since then, we have run dozens of races across the city and district! I completed my first marathon in 2016, which informed my view on how to strategize for the distance on the APS Journey of Transformation!
Running hit a high point for me on March 24, 2018, when my fellow APS runners and I – re-branded as the John Lewis Freedom Runners – completed the inaugural run of the 51-mile Selma to Montgomery Relay Race in a time of 10 hours and 22 minutes. We were inspired by John Lewis and the events of Bloody Sunday as we “ran” tribute to the brave marchers who walked that course 54 years earlier for civil rights. The race also had a very personal meaning for me as I also ran in honor of my dad, who had passed a year earlier.
This past weekend, the John Lewis Freedom Runners ran the 10th Annual Montgomery Half Marathon (under 3 hours each) and visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the Legacy Museum and Tuskegee … so the running and lessons never end.
APS Rocks and Runs
With all of the running for so many of our schools and so much participation from colleagues, students, families and friends over the past five years, it seems only fitting that we introduce our own run. Staying with the theme of this school year’s State of the District, we are calling our race – APS Rocks and Runs.
Every race begins with a few steps, so we decided the inaugural APS Rocks and Runs would start out as a 5K (that’s 3.1 miles!) Here’s a few tips to help you transition from the couch to knocking out your first 5K!
We are even adding a Character Fun Run where toddlers can dress and run as their favorite book characters! The inaugural race, to be held Saturday, May 4, at Brown Middle School and along the Historic Westside Beltline Trail, will also serve as a district fundraiser supporting APS educators and kicking off National Teacher Appreciation Week. We hope this becomes an annual tradition.
Registration is now open at https://runsignup.com/Race/GA/Atlanta/AtlantaPublicSchools5k
The price – $30 for adults; $10 for runners 18 years and younger – includes a race bib and commemorative T-shirt with all proceeds benefiting APS teachers. Teachers and Paraprofessionals run for FREE.
So make plans now to be at Brown Middle School on Saturday, May 4th! Create your own jogging teams. Wear school spirit gear. Have fun! And consider these tips to help you with your run:
- Make a running plan that starts at your fitness level. If necessary, start slow, such as 20 minutes of walking; advance to run-walking; and then eventually run a full 30 minutes. The cliché – one step at a time – is especially fitting when training for any run. Build time to recover as the body gets strongest from a routine that mixes exercise with rest.
- Wear the right shoes and clothes. Wear shoes designed for jogging or running. They should feel secure, yet comfortable with no slipping at the heel. Wear nylon shorts. Avoid cotton apparel, especially cotton socks (get wool socks instead).
- Breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Run at a pace where you can talk when you run. Time your breaths with every two to four steps.
- Eat Right. What you put into your body makes a big difference in performance and injury prevention. Oats, peanut butter, yogurt, vegetables and whole grain pastas are good options for your running diet.
- Join or form a Running Group. The camaraderie and encouragement that comes with being in a group with similar goals is priceless.
- Find your own running style. It’s about exercise, but it’s also about fun. Find your own style, and run your own race.
So, APS … get ready to Rock and Run! See you at the finish line!