EDITORS NOTE:  We noticed this from YMCA Director and Girls XC Coach JF Hurley who offers some good advice on staying active during the summer and finding a good xc team.

My youngest child Andrew will be starting high school this fall. It is true when they say time flies when you are having fun.

After a big test today and Southeast Middle School graduation Wednesday, then Andrew will be an official West Rowan High School freshman. His two sisters, Frankie and Edie, graduated from West and both serve in the U.S. Army.

Last week, I mentioned the YMCA for all kinds of summer activities, but also check with your schools and local sports clubs for summer activities. This past outdoor season, I became the girls' track and field coach at West Rowan High. We also have an AAU/USATF track and field team at the YMCA, where I also coach youth for ages 6-18, but coaching a high school team was a first for me. This past high school season was a great new challenge and for many kids an amazing way to get involved in sports. I loved seeing the athletes improve and thrive.

I have also accepted the position as girls' cross country coach this fall for West Rowan High School. Both track and field and cross country are becoming more popular every year. There are great college scholarship opportunities available, and I believe the word is out. Proof of this was last week's track meet in Greensboro - there were more than 1,500 athletes participating, and the cross country and track and fields grow each year.

It is too late to start with track and field now as we are in the middle of qualifiers with our eyes set on the AAU Junior Olympics this year in Des Moines, Iowa, at the end of July.

But, if your child is interested in being part of a high school cross country team, check with your local high school. They will steer you in the right direction for who to contact and what to do. For West Rowan, we will be hosting a parent/athlete information meeting 6 p.m. June 18 in the media center. Anyone interested, please come and check it out. You do not have to have any prior experience, but you do need to have an interest in running. Even if you are completely new to cross country, we are willing to help you get better. Coach Foster and Coach Waldo are the two other coaches at West Rowan High School. We will have summer workouts and get you ready by fall. If you are new to running, start off nice and easy. Start every other day with 2 to 3 miles or 20 to 30 minutes. Each week, increase your run by one mile or 10 minutes. Even if you have been running, if you go too long or too fast, your chance of an overuse injury increases dramatically. If you can't run the entire time, start running until you can't go anymore, walk until you get your breath back and then start running again. Do this for 20-30 minutes and increase each week by 10 minutes until you can run continuously for one hour. Log your runs either by time, distance or both. As a distance runner, it is wise to log your miles and write down how you feel. Did your belly get messed up? Was it something you ate? Did you feel exceptionally good? Start taking your pulse in the morning. Before you get out of bed, take your true resting pulse and write it down. With your cardiovascular system improving, your resting heart rate will lower and it gives you feedback on how things are progressing. Resting heart rate lowers because your heart is getting stronger, therefore it needs to beat less to push the same amount of blood around. This summer, running is really getting a base which means steady runs, anywhere from 70-80 percent of your maximum heart rate.

You can find that by deducting your age from 220, which is your maximum heart rate. My son will be 14 in July, so his maximum heart rate (MHR) is 206 (220-14 = 206). So 70 percent of that is 144.2 beats per minute and 80 percent is 164.8 beats per minute. His target heart rate for steady runs is between 144 and 165. You can also use the perceived exertion rate (how do you feel?) on a scale of 1 to 10 - one being you are not doing anything and 10 being you are ready to pass out. You should be at a 7 or 8.

Target heart rate and perceived exertion works for anyone and any exercise.

Whatever you do, stay active through the summer, even if you are not playing a sport or are expecting to participate in any school sports. To stay healthy, your body has to move

I hope to see interested runners and their parents 6 p.m. June 16 in the media center at West Rowan High School. For more information, email me at esterciz@hotmail.com or the boys' Coach Foster at fosterg@rss.k12.nc.us

Ester H Marsh WRHS Girls XC Coach and H&F Director JF Hurley YMCA