Posts Tagged ‘running’

why long run hosting is like lesson planning

By Kristina

As a member of the Cambridge Running Club, I periodically host Saturday long runs from my place. Recently, a runner who hosted put out a call for tips for making better long run maps after he experienced the frustrations of translating MapMyRun into usable maps. That inspired me to write about how teaching translates to long run hosting.

Runners (students) don’t necessarily need the flashiest long runs (lessons) to do well. I used to think that my long run routes had to go past the prettiest scenery, but this required more water stops and time-consuming mapping. After helping me host my first long run that went all over the City of Boston, my fiance commented that CRCers didn’t need an exciting route; the act of training with friends was the most important part. I took that to heart for my next one, picking an out-and-back on the Minuteman Trail that was familiar to CRC and offered mileage up to 20 miles. Fewer turns makes it much easier for a runner to focus on his/her running rather than worry about getting lost.

Similarly, I used to think that I needed a Dan Meyer-style lesson every day for my math classes and spent more time googling exciting activities than I did trying to set my objective for the day and design activities that were easy to implement while allowing me to assess whether students were learning. I used to think that all worksheets were boring and that I needed to have PowerPoint presentations every day. However, I now realize that investing my effort into well-designed problems (rather than fancy PowerPoint animations) would pay huge dividends even if they were presented on paper or on the board.

Less is more. I used to make multiple maps, often ending up with 3 or 4 different ones for the various mileage requested by runners. As a teacher, I used to attempt differentiation of instruction by making three different versions of a lesson, but that is not sustainable. Now I look for opportunities within the lesson for advanced students to take on challenges or help their peers as well as opportunities for having struggling students focus on the fundamentals. I learned that a class isn’t about “getting through” a certain number of problems–it’s about time on task.

Similarly, I now make one two-sided map that all runners can take. However, the simple map requires much more prep work. I figure out the minimum, motst common (aka “what’s the mileage prescribed by our coach for Boston or the club’s fall marathon”), and maximum mileage and then figure out a route that allows for differentiation from the most common that minimizes the number of required water stops and the distance required by the water stop dropper to travel. For example, with my most recent long run, I compiled the responses and found that the majority of runners were running 12-16 miles with a few running 8 miles and a few running 18-20 miles. Knowing this also helped my fiance figure out when to pick up water stops and how much to place at each stop. … which leads me to: ask for help. Having a water stop helper makes hosting infinitely easier in the way that talking through your lesson with someone to make sure it makes sense can save you tons of time and classroom management frustration.

Put yourself in your runner’s (student’s) shoes. As someone who gets lost easily, I design maps that tell runners where to go in the way that I want to be told how to go. I anticipate the trickiest parts of the route, e.g., ones with lots of turns or that require maneuvering, then create zoomed-in pictures of those parts so that I can give detailed directions for them. I include left- and right-hand turn cues such as “L Pine St” so that runners can anticipate where to turn rather than deciphering where a street might be on the map. I also indicate intersections where water will be placed. “Water at Mile 4” might not help if a runner doesn’t have a Garmin or if it’s at Mile 3.8 or 4.2, but “at the corner of Pine St and Elm St behind the mailbox” does. I also include my address and phone number in case runners get stranded and need to call to be picked up.

I like my classroom handouts to be so clear that the student won’t second guess themselves and can follow directions without me having to clarify, and I like my long run maps to do the same for my fellow CRCers. Check out the differenceS between a 2009 long run, a 2010 long run, and a 2013 long run below.


This is the front of an 8.5 mile route.

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 10.19.36 PM

This is the back of the route map. There is a mistake in directions (I did not proofread), and there are way too many turns. The two-sidedness also makes the runner constantly flip back and forth to figure out where to go.

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 10.19.50 PM


This is a little better. It incorporates three routes and directions into the same side of one map, but the map itself is so small it’s almost useless. The URL for the route doesn’t need to be there, the water stops aren’t described or marked in context. And this will only be meaningful to Boston-area runners: I put a water stop at the top of one of the steepest hills in the area. Many runners probably skipped it out of frustration!

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 10.17.53 PM2013: LongRunAfter

Now my question is…did the long run hosting help me become a better teacher, or vice-versa?


By Kristina

BC Campus School

A wise soul once told me to keep my eye on the small victories in teaching–those “smile file” moments that warm your heart and solidify that “yes, *this* is why I’m a teacher” feeling. In spite of the repeated 5:30 a.m. call of the iPhone Harp alarm, the frustrations of lessons gone awry, and the gallons of iced coffee consumed, these small victories keep me going.

In October 2009, my colleagues invited me to come to Franklin Park for the JQUS cross-country team’s last practice of the season. As a second-year teacher, I hadn’t yet considered taking on any extracurricular activities beyond the scope of my calculus, pre-calculus, ESL, and advisory classes, but I still kept up my running as a stress reliever for all my grading and lesson planning. At the time, the team was comprised of 9th-11th grade boys (the lone girl had quit by the time October rolled around), so I paired up with a self-identified “slow” one to run the Franklin Park course before the team gathered for a pizza party at a coach’s house nearby. I immediately loved being a part of the energetic environment and a shared love of running with fellow teachers and students. I didn’t realize then that I’d caught the coaching bug and would continue coaching to this day. I also didn’t realize a few of the gawky 9th graders there that day would become the core of the JQUS Running Club over the next few years.

Two of the coaches left JQUS the next year, and the remaining coach asked me to join the team. We changed the focus from trying to get other schools to let us join their cross-country dual meets to asking our school to fund a few local road races for our students. We applied for a grant from Jordan Fundamentals and received $5000 for race registrations, shirts, and equipment. More and more students began to join, including classmates of those first 9th graders. We signed them up for races such as the Mayor’s Cup 5K, the Superhero 5K, the Battle of Bunker Hill 8K, and the BAA 10K. Though many students dropped out of the Running Club, a dedicated group flourished. They ran together in rain and heat, pushing each other through hill repeats and on longer river runs. One of those students started in fall 2010, and he went from 10 minute miles to earning age group prizes in local 5Ks. Looking back, I should have predicted his success based on his tireless work ethic in my math class, with the IB Diploma Programme, and his other extracurricular activities.

This student became the class of 2012 valedictorian and ended up going to Boston College–a lofty achievement accomplished by very few students before him. Before he graduated, he mentioned that he’d like to run the Boston Marathon someday.

That someday is now.

His fundraising page for the Boston College Campus School popped up in my news feed today. I’ve seen many of these fundraising pages from Cambridge Running Club teammates and runner friends from Virginia–lots of whom have years of running experience and multitudes of races under their belts. It’s so amazing to see this student, who ran his first 5K a little over two years ago, ready to take on the daunting challenge of this historic course on his way to the “right on Hereford, left on Boylston” turn to the finish.

I can’t wait to give him a high-five as he runs past mile 24 on Marathon Monday.



Lululemon FunRun

By Kristina

It’s not just for Wunder Unders…Lululemon Prudential has a weekly run club!


Yesterday I went to Lululemon Run Club with my friend Jess. I was so nervous on the way over from work. I hadn’t run with other people in a really long time, and feared that no one would want to run with me at 9:30-10:30/mile pace or that I’d feel awkward trying to make new friends on the run. I decided not to fuss about pace at all and abandoned RunKeeper (aka a “naked” run), and relaxed as Jess and I set off with the group. We ended up running a 3.55 mile loop at conversational pace (from Prudential Mall to Fairfield St to the river to Longfellow Bridge, down Memorial Drive to the Mass Ave Bridge and back to the mall via Boylston St. I found out later that we did it in about 37 minutes (10:18 pace)…will have to fight the urge to obsessively collect data in spite of my math teacher tendencies.

After the run we congregated at Back Bay Social Club for conversation and appetizers. The duck sliders and meat candy were a delicious…precursor to some Pinkberry (my favorite is key lime yogurt topped with blueberries, kiwis, and mangos) afterward!

I’m looking forward to trying out other run clubs (e.g., Athleta, City Sports, Lululemon Newbury) in the area as the weather gets nicer!