AMY YODER BEGLEY, THE MILE: Kids Running Interview|
Our Olympians continue to be a source of inspiration. In our second interview of this series, Amy Yoder Begley tells of the exciting experiences running has brought to her. She also highlights one of her favorite distances, the mile.
- Carol Goodrow
KIDS RUNNING: Please tell us about your most recent experience with the Olympics.
AMY YODER BEGLEY: The Olympics were a dream of mine since I was 10 years old. It was an amazing experience to accomplish this goal. I made the Olympic team in the 10,000 meter track race. It is 6.2 miles or 25 laps around the track. I really enjoyed the Opening Ceremony walking out with all the athletes from all over the world. I placed 26th at the Olympic Games. Competing in a stadium in front of 90,000 people was amazing. As a gift to myself for making the Olympic Team, I took a trip to Chengdu, China to the Panda Research Center. I was able to hold a one-year old 60 pound panda. That was also an amazing experience to hold an endangered species, there are only 1,000 pandas left in the world.
KIDS RUNNING: What does it take to run the mile? To be successful with the mile?
AMY YODER BEGLEY: The mile is a combination of speed and endurance. The race is approximately 50% aerobic (endurance) and 50% anaerobic (speed). You have to have good strength and be able to make yourself deal with a lot of pain. You also have to have good focus because mistakes are hard to recover from in such a short race!
KIDS RUNNING: Okay, let's suppose I'm a 10-year old kid and I've seen you run your event and I am INSPIRED! I want to go out into my backyard to train. What do I do?
AMY YODER BEGLEY:You can start by working on your sprint. Race your friends or just see how fast you can run in your backyard or in PE at school. If you like it, talk to your parents. Then, maybe they can take you to a park with some grass or trails to run on. Start off small. Maybe 1/2 mile. Then work your way up slowly to 3 miles. At that point, maybe your parents can enter you in a local road race and see if you like the competition part of running.
KIDS RUNNING: Did you have a favorite running game as a kid?
AMY YODER BEGLEY: There were two games I use to do while I was running when I was younger. The first one is with a group or a team. It is called Indian Run. You run in a line and the last person in line sprints to the front of the line. That person then sets the pace for the group. The last person in line then sprints to the front of the line and sets the pace for the run for the group. This continues until the set distance of the run has been completed.
The second game is called "fartlek". It means speed play. You can do this by yourself or with friends or teammates. You go on a run and do sprints or pick-ups during the run. The sprints can be set times during the run. For example, you could run 30 seconds every two minutes. Or you could set landmarks to run to. I grew up in Indiana and we use to sprint to every other electrical pole or every other block in the city.
You can also do an out and back run. You can run out a set amount of time and try to come back faster.
KIDS RUNNING: Do you have a tip for a new runner and another for an experienced kid-miler?
AMY YODER BEGLEY: Don't focus too much on intervals at a young age. Focus on having fun and getting in some mileage. If you take it too seriously early on, you might be great in middle school or high school, but can lose interest later on. Have fun with it!
Learn proper form in both running and stretching at a young age. Running is like a bank account, the more you put into it the more you get out of if. The little things are really important. The sooner you get into the habit of stretching, eating right and icing the more you will get out of your running.
KIDS RUNNING: Words of advice?
AMY YODER BEGLEY: The most important thing to remember as a young runner is to have fun. Learn about proper form, stretching and nutrition so you can have a long running career. Injuries will happen but you can get through them.
KIDS RUNNING: A few really fun or exciting things you've experienced because of running?
AMY YODER BEGLEY: I have been able to travel all over the world racing and meeting great people. I have raced in Thailand, Japan, China, Australia and Scotland. In each country I have eaten the local foods and experienced the wild life. In Australia, I hiked and watched the wildlife including koalas, Tasmanian devils, wombats, and kangaroos. In Thailand, I rode an elephant. In China, I got to hold a baby panda. Every trip was an amazing experience.
KIDS RUNNING: Anything you would do differently?
AMY YODER BEGLEY: I would of worked on my form drills at a younger age. I also would of done shorter races when I was younger to work on my speed. But I have had an amazing career in running. I am looking forward to running till the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
KIDS RUNNING: Do you have an Olympic medal? Or another medal that is very special to you?
AMY YODER BEGLEY: I do not have an Olympic medal. However, I still have the big red ribbon that I won in my first race when I was ten years old. I got second place in a five mile road race. I was hooked on running from that point. The ribbon is really important to me.
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