One of the first sports known to humanity is track and field, recorded at the Ancient Olympic Games of 776 B.C. in Olympia, Greece. For 12 centuries, wars would halt for these games, as opposed to the Modern Olympics, where countries have boycotted the games for political reasons or stopped altogether during times of war. It started with a foot race of approximately 200 meters and progressed to the many distances today.
Track running is a sport that can improve your overall running as well as improve your game of other sports. Robertsdale High School Coach, Rebecca Bell, used running to stay in shape for soccer which ultimately led to a college scholarship at Samford University in Birmingham. While track was not her favorite thing, she attests that it “does not lie’. The distance is the same week after week with little to no variables so your performance feedback is pure and immediate.
Caleb Carmichael, who ran for The University of West Florida and eventually became the head coach of both men’s and women’s cross country teams, also began running to stay in shape for basketball. Both Bell and Carmichael started running at a young age, both coach other young people to love running, and have influenced their own children to run. They both have a small, close group of friends that they run with for accountability and encouragement. Their community of runners makes it fun. For decades of running, Carmichael suggests a variety of running including trail running, changing up the time of day in your run, and finding a run club or group. Bell agrees with mixing it up and suggests finding the distance you enjoy racing or even just “run for fun.” New-to-you events like an adventure race or triathlon keep it fun. “Most of my friends from adulthood I met through running. Bottom line is to keep it enjoyable.” Bell finds joy in running marathons and ultra-marathons, but even more so, seeing her high school athletes excel. Just this weekend her girls’ relay team qualified for the state competition in its first-ever indoor track season. How fun is THAT?!?!?!
Carmichael’s daughter, Elyse, is a freshman at Washington High School and just completed her freshman varsity soccer season last week and is beginning track this week. Does she run to stay in shape for soccer? Well, as a cross country/soccer/track athlete she is NEVER out of shape. “When I’m not playing soccer, I’m running which helps my endurance in soccer of which sometimes I play all 80 minutes. The same goes for running, soccer keeps me on my toes and flexible. The sports work very well for her mental and physical fitness.
The track can be repetitive and many think “not fun” but Elyse inspires her teammates and the community. One of the ways that she makes track running fun is just “sharing the experience with friends and family. We laugh, we talk, and feel better for it afterward. I think this helps me to inspire others because I always want to take the right approach to things and enjoy the little moments running brings me; I figure once I share that enjoyment of the sport- we’ve already won as people and athletes.”
Have YOU ever run track? It is not a sport just for the young and springy! Coach Carmichael coaches a Monday Night Track workout at UWF that is open to the public. Are your young and springy kids interested in running track? We recommend Golden Elite for some of the best youth coaching in the sport!