Students learn teambuilding from long-distance runner

St. Cecilia students recently celebrated “Teambuilding Tuesday” with a trashion show and a guest speaker to kick off a week of activities focused on mindfulness, creativity and wellness.

Ultramarathoner and youth mental health advocate Greg Nance was the speaker, and he highlighted the importance of perseverance and motivation while sharing stories and answering questions about his Run Across America in 2022.

Nance reflected on his time in grade school and said he enjoyed playing many sports but learned to love running. “One of the most important things that I learned when I was in second, third or fourth grade is to do the things that you love to do,” he said. “I’m still learning that lesson, even today, trying to make more time for the things that I love to do.”

The students asked many questions about his travels, dealing with challenges and why he likes to run. “I run because it makes me happy. Running is how I deal with stress,” Nancy said, adding running keeps him physically fit and is good for his brain. “When we move our body, our brain will produce more chemicals that help us feel good because serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin are chemicals our brains use to regulate ourselves. Those chemicals make us feel happier,” Nance said.

“When I’m feeling nervous about something, breathing is a way you can instantly drop into your body and feel more connected and more relaxed,” he said as he taught the students a five-count deep-breathing exercise and some stretching to calm their minds and connect with their body.

Students also learned that Nance has run through the Gobi Desert and Antarctica, where he did not see any penguins, and last summer he ran about 5.6 million steps from New York City to Ocean Shores and averaged 39 miles a day while eating about 6,200 calories every 24 hours.

One student asked if he ever wanted to quit, and Nance said he did not. But, he had endured some excruciating days of severe tendonitis in Minnesota and back spasms in Ohio. “We aren’t defined by those lowest moments,” Nance said. “We can all do hard things.”