I love coaching cross-country at school as it gives me the opportunity to share some of my experiences with the kiddos, try to teach some good habits (like stretching) and get away from school for about 20 minutes.
What I do love, though, is having the same conversation year after year with different groups of kids about runners’ cramps. When a child gets a stomach cramp while running, he/she will usually just stop, try again, stop again, and continue through the cycle. Others will awkwardly run, one arm over the head or clutching to the side which hurts.
On Monday, I was standing in the middle of the trail watching my team and couldn’t help but notice eleven year old Sarah who was running down the trail while swinging her arm sideways, reaching over her head, and twisting her torso. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this.
“Hey, Sarah, do you have a cramp?”
“Keep your arms down and run normally. It’s just gas,” I called out as she passed me.
When a volunteer parent came in sight, I left her at my post and ran after Sarah.
“Sarah, you have to exhale more than you inhale.”
“The cramp is just gas. There are two ways to get rid of it. One is to exaggerate your exhaling. Then there is the second way to get rid of gas.”
Sarah snorted as she laughed and her cramp was gone within minutes. Now, coaching a boy with stomach cramps has a totally different ending!