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“Mighty Milers” run laps around health and fitness

March 14, 2016

a student displays his row of clothespins It’s half an hour before classes begin at Emma C. Chase Elementary School and the hallways are empty. A few sleepy-eyed students begin to trickle into the school’s gym, where piles of clothespins are strewn across the benches. As the small cluster of students eventually turns into a gaggle, physical education teacher, Tamara Coney, steps to the front and turns on some up-beat pop music. She speaks a few cautionary words about keeping a steady pace and with that, the students take off, running laps around the gym.

These students are part of Chase’s Mighty Milers early morning running club. Mighty Milers is a program created by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) organization which seeks to encourage students in elementary and middle schools to incorporate running into their daily routine. Mrs. Coney is the facilitator for Chase’s club. Students run together and keep track of their mileage, earning rewards and incentives along the way.

“Aside from the cardiovascular benefits, there is so much research out there that shows that running stimulates the brain and impacts the brain’s function,” Mrs. Coney said. “Doing these running exercises early in the morning enables these children to be ready to learn by the time they get to class.”

The students certainly seem more alert after a few laps, their sleepy-eyed faces turning into looks of concentrated determination. With each lap around the gym, they grab a clothespin from the bench and attach it to their shirt. 29 clothespins equals a mile. Mrs. Coney keeps track of each students’ mileage and when they run five miles, they are rewarded with a keychain in the shape of a foot, which many display proudly on their backpacks. She hopes to eventually have the club participate in a 3k or 5k as a team.

“I really like the running club,” second-grade Chase student Tatiana Dalley said. “I’m happy that I can exercise before I have to think hard all day.”