Track season: get training! 7

Best Player salutes all the young runners all over the northern hemisphere who are right now returning to the track as spring kicks in.

the most exciting - and frightening - place in the world

It’s never easy getting those first training runs in, figuring out whether you want to run 400m or 800m this year, trying to coax your times down, squeezing into the spikes for the first time since fall – if this is you right now, hats off.

Running is one of the loneliest and mentally toughest of all sports (just consult one of BP’s all-time heroes, Steve Prefontaine). So everything you do is easier if you’re on a team, whether it’s a community track club or a school track team or running group – like Toronto’s Seneca Hill Elite running group.

SHE is like thousands of running groups around the world. Its focus is to make running a little less lonely and arduous, to help kids develop a love – or at least a like – for running, to get everyone in better shape and health, and to have some fun together. SHE’s home turf is a primary school, where its members are students and its founding coaches are teachers. They’ve got a rigorous, regular training schedule, targeted runs they’re planning to participate in, and their own blog with useful training tips and pieces on the world’s great runners. With this kind of dedication, who knows – one of Canada’s greats could come from this group, a decade or so from now.

If running is your thing – or one of your things – it’s time to get out there. Most schools and track associations hold their first meets within a few weeks, so don’t wait. Start with some long runs to get your mileage in, then focus on your event – strength training and speedwork as necessary. And if you can’t join a group like SHE, at least drag a friend or two out for your runs with you. You’ll have more fun and probably perform better in the long run. Don’t get too stressed about what or how you’re doing; the best runner in history, Usain Bolt, is also one of the most relaxed runners in history. Keep it fun and keep it fast…

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