By Christine Baker, TSB Staff
The Melon Dash 5k is a summer race in downtown McKinney that benefits the North Texas Cat Rescue. The race is this Saturday, Aug. 3 at Chestnut Square. The Fun Run portion of the race starts at 7:45a.m. and the 5k starts at 8:15a.m. TownSquareBuzz got a chance to meet up with a group of kids from the ages of 5-12 that have been training with Sara Johnson from Reality Running for this race all summer.
“My little ones are training for the Fun Run, and my bigger ones are training for the 5k,” Johnson said. “I have kids from kindergarten through second grade doing the Fun Run and some second graders on up are doing the 5k. We all run by time — not by distance — so everyone can train at the same time. I try to make it fun and relaxing, something they look forward to, so it’s not stressful at all. We just come have a good time and the emphasis is on fun and being the best you can be and getting better than you were last week —not on really being super-fast, speedy star runners because most of my kids now are beginners.”
Sara Johnson has been working with these kids all summer to help them get active and to help them learn to love running.
“I have a coaching business where I coach adults called `Reality Running’ so some of the kids are (children) of clients, some are from my kids’ schools; and others just found me online through my Facebook page,” Johnson said. “This is a good way for kids to learn to really love being active to really get moving, get fit but without the real stress of competiveness or trying to be better than the kid next to them.”
Keeping the environment stress-free and fun has really taught the kids that running can be fun.
“I like all the training when I’m with my friends because it’s better,” 9-year-old participant Emma Bean said. “My goal is to not freak out about it and do the race as good as I can. I’m Not really caring about winning this time, I’m just caring about how good I do.”
“I really want to increase my speed so I can be better at sports and its another activity I can involve in with my friends,” 9-year-old participant Katie Free said. “My goal is to get faster so I can be better at soccer.”
For the kids, this is something fun they can do with their friends. But their mothers see it as something even better than that.
“I wanted to help her specifically with soccer, but I also wanted to introduce her to the idea that running isn’t something you have to do for punishment, it can actually be enjoyable,” said Katie’s mom, Lisa Free. “You can even keep doing it when you get older. It’s not something that costs a lot of money or a team to join. You just need a good pair of shoes. I wanted to give her something she can take with her later in life and something that could impact her now with sports. My goal for Katie to finish the race and feel proud that she accomplished it.”
“I know Sara from school, I knew that she was a running coach and she was going to do this camp and she sent out an email to all the parents,” said Emma’s mom, Amy Bean. “I did this mainly for Emma to learn the mechanics of running. There’s so much more to it than you would think. She’s teaching them how to run, how to pace themselves so they can run longer … and she’s done a great job about teaching them about goal setting.”
Overall, the camp has had a positive impact on everyone that has joined, and these kids are more than excited to run in the Melon Dash this Saturday.
“(Running) makes you better and stronger no matter what,” Johnson said. “No matter if you’re a dancer or a football player, running makes you better. In so many sports, running is only when you get in trouble, and that’s sad because running is so key to making you good at anything you do. If you like running and you have your endurance built up, that’s half the battle.”
Come out and show your support at the Melon Dash from 7:45 a.m. with the fun run through the 5k awards at 9:15 a.m., and cheer on these participants that have been training so hard all summer for this race.
All photos from Reality Running