'Mighty Milers' program teaches kids to start running at early age

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Not only are adults benefiting from the races that the New York Road Runners put on, but they have so many great programs - in particular, the "Mighty Milers," who reach into communities across New York.

The program teaches kids how to start running at a very early age, which children as young as 5 years old running stride for stride with some of the best runners in the world.

"Mighty Milers" is meant to keep kids active in order to help fight childhood obesity. They run two sessions a week, 15 minutes each, and kids are also given the option of running at recess.

Physical education teacher Nate O'Reily brought the program to PS 452 school and says the benefits go beyond fitness.

"The teachers always talk about how the kids seem more focused after running," he said. "And so they've noticed that when they come back to the classroom. they're ready to learn."

Their weekly miles are tracked, and the young runners are given rewards when they reach certain goals. But that's not why the kids say they do it.

"I keep on going because I know if I keep on going, I'll get better and better," one young runner said.

Some of the school's fourth graders competed over the weekend at a 1500-meter race through Times Square, just about the same time the elite field came through Mile 7 of the New York City Half Marathon.

They also got a special training session with some of those top runners, including American Meb Keflezighi.

"They don't have to be a New York City champion or Boston champion or an Olympian," he said. "But they can be the best they can be, and sports can help them get to that point."

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