Starting in September, the York Region Running Club transitions into cross country mode.

This means that some of the club’s running will be in parks and conservation areas. Running outside as the season changes provides more enjoyment and inspiration. The fall colours make it different every single practice.

The club communicates via emails and twitter through its website, and are primarily based out of the Stouffville Community Track on Ninth Line. However, in October, the group will move to park settings. The club is fortunate to have a large selection of regional forests which they use for training. Hills are a big part as the challenge to run steep slopes builds speed and strength.

The training has four piers of purpose. The club starts the focus with have fun and enjoyment while running. Through the workout process they endeavour to keep it exciting and fun. Games are part of the different things they do to learn a special skill.

The coaches have the groups divided into not just age, but also skill level. So a person new to running may run with younger runners until they have better skills and coordination. The organizers are mindful of all the growth and development challenges which are different to each person. They work to communicate that they understand it does not happen in 2-3 weeks.

The head coach, Fred Robbins, brings a wealth of knowledge and running experience. He was a top master runner from ages 45-55. He is great at getting athletes of all ages excited about training. Some have often said, “We are in good hands now.” Others have noticed that Robbins shares the passion for track and field and cross country. During the cross country season, he has been seen running through the bush to cheer his athletes.

Skill development and running correctly can save time and energy. They spend a great deal of time to review biomechanical dynamics and fine tune the correct position of knee drive and arm drive for each stride while running. This is done primarily through drills at the beginning of each practice. Coaches are watching and analyzing each athlete’s running form even while the workout is being done. A few helpful suggestions during breaks create a change of focus that really helps the athletes to improve.

Since we are now in a COVID-19 world and need to follow proper guidelines and protocols, the coaches do a pre-screening check for each athlete every practice. They do require the wearing of masks during the warm-up and cool down. They also follow the protocols of sport governing bodies as required which means they have only nine athletes per coach to form a bubble/cohort group. This allows for social tracing if necessary, which is a requirement to document from Athletics Ontario.

Currently, they have three groups each with their own coach. As they move to cross country they need more parents to assist with timing and group leadership.

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