The coach was invited to address members of the Team Unbreakable running group at York University (Toronto, Canada) on Saturday, January 31. The invitation was extended out by Lindsay, a student at York and the driving force behind the university’s Team Unbreakable programme.
To give you some history, I first met Lindsay at the Credit Valley Hospital Teen Therapy Running programme 5 years ago. The programme was organized and developed by medical Social Worker and former running client of mine, Dan McGann. Dan invited me to address his teenager clients on the merits of safe, efficient running using my Squat/Scoot technique and barefoot balancing drills – along with running’s key contributions to positively improving mental health! Lindsay, who has battled against social anxiety disorder for years, was in the programme, supported by her mom, Lisa. After my talk, Lisa approached me about doing some personal training with Lindsay and her 2 sisters (Paige and Megan). This led to an ongoing affiliation that continues in one way or another to this day.
When Lindsay contacted me a few months ago about delivering a seminar to her Team Unbreakable group on safe, efficient running the Squat/Scoot way, I jumped at the opportunity. Virtually on her own, Lindsay not only set up the programme in conjunction with Dan McGann but also recruited participants, organized meeting days and times, set up guest speakers and, basically, made Team Unbreakable happen! It continues after 6 months solely due to Lindsay’s commitment to make it so and help fellow students struggling with all types of mental health issues.
Moving on to presentation day, picture ANY university students getting out of bed on a Saturday morning at the end of January when it’s -17C to attend ANYTHING – let alone ANYTHING that requires leaving their dorm rooms! Well, 6 TeamUnbreakable members (out of approximately 30 who originally signed up and 15 who are still involved) showed up and, from the feedback, were not disappointed.
I was impressed at many levels by the youth in attendance. They were keen to learn (even though a tad ‘sleepy’), asked pertinent questions and understood how difficult it is to run but how important it is to their overall well-being. Of course, shifting from their ‘coffin’ shoes to barefoot was (as it always is) an interesting experience. After about 20 minutes of demonstrating and practicing, all participants were moving quietly, quickly and efficiently barefoot through the halls of York University! My goal is always safety first when running – whether you run barefoot, in minimalist footwear or even in coffins. Switching back to the ‘coffins’, all of the TU gang were able to run tight, light, compact and forward – not perfectly (that takes lots of perfect practice) but certainly much better than at the beginning of the seminar.
I know that if Lindsay and her TU members can stay with the Squat/Scoot technique of mid-foot running, they will reap the rewards not only of injury-free running BUT of emotional freedom to pursue their dreams! Here’s to more youth taking charge and making a positive difference.