I was delighted to be asked by Frank Greally to give my perspective on The Daily Mile program, which is now running (pun intended!) in so many schools across Ireland.
The program was founded in 2012 in Scotland by primary school teacher Elaine Wyllie, based on the simple idea that children who got some exercise during their school day came back to their desks full of energy and well able for a productive afternoon of study. Teachers noticed that the physical exercise during the day didn’t just make the children physically fitter, but also mentally fitter. As a mother of two children who enjoy and benefit from sports, this is not news to me! I know that even as little as 15 minutes walking or running outside every day is highly beneficial for children, and my own children are in better form when they’ve had an active day running around in the fresh air.
Nowadays, children tend to gravitate towards electronic games and devices, and are more sedentary than my generation would have been at the same age. It’s our job as parents to steer them towards the activities that are better for them while they are at home – and I am delighted that The Daily Mile is reinforcing the need for physical exercise during the school day.
As a child and teenager, and before the trophies and medals came along – I ran for the sheer joy of it. Most children do! When I got older, I developed the discipline and the ambition to be a better runner, and I developed the habit of regular exercise and healthy eating. I was often in training for one race or another, of course….but even when I was not in the build-up to a race, I stuck with my regular routine. Believe it or not, I still do. The habits I formed in my early years have stuck with me for my whole life. I still eat a very healthy diet, and I still run my own Daily Mile or two every day! I am so hopeful that The Daily Mile will create a new generation of young people who love to run, and who don’t grow out of it as they get older. I want to see these Daily Milers grow up to consider exercise just another part of what they do every day – as necessary and commonplace as brushing their teeth.
I think that The Daily Mile is a brilliant initiative, and I will continue to do whatever I can to support it. In my own work as a coach, I am encouraging the same healthy habits and behaviours in the adults I train. It’s never too late to get better than you are, and it’s never too late to develop healthy habits. You can walk or you can run – but regardless of your age, you can make The Daily Mile a part of your life too.