April 1, 2015

Boone Middle School’s Toreador Trot has always come with one main goal: promote fitness in a fun and comfortable environment, and a recent partnership now ups the ante on that goal and gives the 5k some added, national recognition.

This year’s Toreador Trot, which takes place April 11 at Boone Middle School, will be the first national 5k race to have all participants wearing heart-rate monitors.

“This is the third year that we’ve organized it, and I reached out to the president of IHT and asked if they would support what we’re doing with our 5k. They came back and said yes. I figured what’s the worst that could happen if I just asked,” middle school P.E. and health teacher Megan Hansen said.

This stems from the school’s new investment to promote fitness and health knowledge. Starting this school year, students in grades 5-8 have been wearing heart-rate monitors in P.E. class, with the goal being teaching each student how hard they have to work to get the results they want and giving instructors concrete feedback about how hard each student is working.

“We need to advance physical education, because the technology is always evolving. It’s always getting more and more advanced. They want new technology in the classroom, and this is a great way to utilize that,” Hansen said. “ You have Fitbit, apps on your phone, personal heart rate monitors, GPS systems. This is gives them an opportunity to see what this technology does to personalize their fitness and make it more individualized for that student. We pushed for this as a department.”

Since implementing the IHT Spirit System, the middle school’s health department has been able to tailor workouts and classes to its students’ needs. In addition to monitoring the students’ habits and activity levels, the students have frequent health classes that show them the breakdown of their heart rates, what they mean and how to use that information to get the best results.

“It takes out the guesswork of is this kid working compared to that kid. It takes a big challenge out of it, because you may look at one kid and say, ‘oh, that kid is out of shape,’ but really, it’s a matter of how much cardiovascular endurance they have built up to that point. They don’t realize that they have to raise their level of work in order to maintain that,” Hansen said.

Once Hansen received the go-ahead from the one of the worldwide leaders in sports apparel and equipment, it made the race much more feasible for the entire community to take place. In the 5k’s first two years, entry cost was $15 due to the cost of T-shirts, but that cost drops to $5 for students this year, giving anyone interested the opportunity to participate.

For adult participants, they get the chance to receive the same feedback the students have been getting for months.

“So, they can get that same feedback the students have been working on and incorporating it, and it will be emailed directly to them at the finishing of the race when they check back in the heart rate monitor,” Hansen said. “It’s just really neat to expose this technology to more people. I would love to see this continue, because the whole idea behind this is take what they’re learning in the classroom out into the community, out into their daily lives and their families. The only way you’re going to do that is to do community activities like this, and it’s an awesome culture.”

In anticipation for the race, the health department has implemented a mileage club, allowing any interested middle school students the chance to get in shape, improve their times and learn even more about how to manipulate their heart rate for the best results.

The Toreador Trot takes place April 11, and a course map can be found on the Toreador Trot 5k Run/Walk Facebook page. Day of the race registration starts at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 7:30 a.m. Those interested can pick up registration materials at Boone Middle School and mail completed forms and entry fees to: BMS Toreador Trot, 1640 First St. Attn: Megan Hansen, Boone, IA 50036. For more information on IHT and its heart rate monitor system, visit www.ihtusa.com.