Shane & Kyle are 12 years ‘young’ twins and enter Grade 7 this September 2012.
They trained with my Team Over The Top Youth Running Group for 1 1/2 years from ages 9 to 10 1/2 in an effort to learn and perfect my Squat/Scoot technique of mid-foot running. As part of the program, the lads learned how to run bare-foot on almost any surface – injury and pain-free and efficient! Their parents wanted them to be technically proficient at running. They showed great promise in a variety of distances (but were NOT receiving any technical coaching) and were also striving to improve their Alpine Ski Racing skills. As part of the TOTT gang, they thrived, even entering a few 5 km races and performing well.
However, this is not as much about what the lads did whilst training with me BUT what they’ve done in the past 6 months. First, Shane. During a recent phone conversation with me, upon being asked what he had planned for the summer after coming off a busy winter of ski racing and spring of track events, he said “I want to put my own training program together with the goal of running for Canada one day”. I asked how he planned to do that & for what events. He said “from the 1500 metres to marathon distances. I’ll research the current top times in each distance between the 2 and, as an example, add 3 minutes to the 1500 metre best time and train to ultimately better it. I’ll do this with the mindset that the best distance for me will evolve as I age, train and race. Then, I’ll become #1 in Canada! I also plan to adjust my food intake accordingly to maximize my performance.” The amazing part of this is that I BELIEVE Shane will do this. Remember that name!!
Kyle also came off a long, tough winter of intense Alpine downhill ski racing and was, to quote his mom, “quite simply BURNT OUT” heading into his school’s track season. In spite of this, he placed a close 2nd in the Metro Toronto Catholic Schools’ regional 400 metre finals (to put this in perspective, it’s the largest regional elementary school meet in Canada). This qualified him for the City-Wide Championship but, an interesting thing happened at the start line. Kyle had been feeling overwhelmed by the internal pressure to compete and actually was telling his folks that “I don’t want to race”. They left it up to Kyle as to a final decision, encouraging him to at least go to the stadium and support his teammates. He did this, then decided to toe the line in the 400 metre final. Just before the starter’s horn sounded, he went up to the official & announced that he was NOT racing. Just like that, he walked off the track. He mentioned to me during the same conversation with his twin brother that “I simply felt overwhelmed by the pressure to compete & wanted to step away. It was my decision, Jeff – my parents had nothing to do with it. I’ll get back at it in the fall with the cross-country running team”. His parents were justifiably proud of Kyle for being true to his heart & soul.
I had to remind myself that these were 12 year old lads!! I have been training athletes of all ages & abilities for decades (& have personally competed at elite levels in many sports since age 6). NEVER have I encountered such ‘OLD & WISE SOULS’ in such ‘YOUNG BODIES’. Shane & Kyle will be just fine, thank you. They will be positive difference-makers…mark my words!