At the beginning of the school year, I introduce a KM club to my class. The KM club is always done during class time, as a class. Essentially, as a class, we each run a KM (kilometer) and keep track of how many KM’s we have done all together. We track our KM’s on a map of Canada, and see how far we can get across our very large country.

Pace Car

The first lesson I give to my students sounds a little like this. “Ok, we are all going to run one KM. It is not a race. When we run a KM, it is about bettering your own time, not passing the people around you. I will time you and see if you can continue to better yourself. This first time, I am going to run with you, but you are not allowed to pass me. You have to stay beside or behind me. I will be your pace car, just like when cars start racing. It is important to remember that we are not doing this to be the fastest in the class, but to try better your own ability.”

By the time I finish this monotonous inspirational speech, they are bored of hearing me talk, and already ahead of me.

They are ready to run.

A Little Bit Better

I get them all behind me at the starting point of our KM, and we get going.

I need to remind my students many times through the KM that they need to remain behind me. I run with my students a few times, to give them the sense of the distance, and then I begin to time them.

As September passes and October begins, they are getting pretty good at running a KM, but I still encourage them to remember that it is not about beating the kids around them, but about bettering themselves.

Pick up the pace!

This summer, my husband, Simon, and I did the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage which is a 775 km walk across Spain. On the second of 30 days, I realized (actually Simon kindly pointed it out to me), that I am a hypocrite. All this talk about bettering yourself and focusing on your own ability was pushed far out of my repertoire of thoughts!

After the first day, where we were so jet lagged and I threw up about 20 km into our walk, I set out to beat anybody I could see ahead of me. If we were walking, at any point in the day, and I saw another pilgrim in front of me, I would just automatically start walking faster. To Simon’s dismay, he would pick up the pace to keep up with my subconscious ultra-competitive nature.

This quickening pace, or “just a few more KM’s” attitude continued for about ten days, until I finally realized that we were doing an amazing job completing our pilgrimage. There was no need to try compete with other people, they were sure not trying to compete with us. It was about doing OUR Camino in OUR way.

I think this September my running lesson will be a little different, or at least I have a new attitude and perspective going into it.