While some youth take advantage of their summer vacation and sleep in, others have been out hitting the trail before breakfast — and not just a jog around the block.
About 20 students from Destin Middle School have been hitting the trail from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday for the past several weeks as part of a six-week running camp that wraps up Aug. 2.
“We probably average around 12 to 15 miles each week, not including intervals or sprint work,” said Tina Barron, Destin Middle running coach.
To make the camp fun for the students, they change up the route each day.
Each Monday, they run along Scenic Highway 98 starting at the Crab Trap at James Lee Park and head east for about a 3-mile run.
Tuesdays, the kids head over to Northwest Florida State College to run the trails and the cross country course they run at the Okaloosa County meet during the school year. Between the interval and hill work they put in about 2 to 4 miles.
Wednesdays, the students hit the track at Destin Middle School, plus they put in some time with weights and conditioning.
Thursdays is Destin bridge day. The youth start at Clement Taylor Park on Calhoun and then run to the Destin bridge where they cross it twice for hill work. This route works out to be about 3 to 4 miles.
Following the trail runs on Tuesdays, the students finish off the morning with a float down Turkey Creek.
“This is always the students’ favorite day,” Barron said. “Crab Trap is usually their least favorite run since there is no shade and the sun is relentless.”
However, the six week run camp has shown dividends during the school year.
“We definitely see a marked advantage in our athletes who condition with us over the summer,” Barron said. “They are better acclimated to the heat, they have maintained or increased their mileage and pace, and they often run very well at tryouts.”
Destin Cross Country Coach Demetrius Stevens said he’s also seen improvement.
“We’ve had a fun summer so far and the kids have visibly improved over the time they have been running,” Stevens said.
In addition, the summer run camp always builds rapport and friendships among our athletes, especially those new to Destin Middle School.
“Often our older, seasoned runners will mentor younger students, and some of our alums return a few days each summer to run with us,” Barron said.
“The camaraderie between the kids is awesome, they are always so encouraging of one another. It always reminds me why I chose to be a coach,” Stevens added.