The air in your lungs burns as you try to push out that last lap. The speed and stamina that came so easily last year aren't quite there now.
The agony suffered through preseason athletic tryouts will be all too familiar for many high school athletes next month, as they attempt to huff and puff their way into top condition for the fall sports season.
For those who want to get a jump on the competition, the answer may lie with the County Youth Recreation Council and Department of Parks and Recreation. They will sponsor the first Summer Exercise Program for all students in ninth through 12th NTC grades, from July 26 through Aug. 6 at the Maryland Army National Guard's Henry C. Evans Armory, on Hahn Road in Westminster.
From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, the program's participants will learn the correct way to exercise and maintain physical fitness. Stretching, aerobic exercise and conditioning will be emphasized.
Master fitness instructors, headed by Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class William Fitzgerald, will also provide information on substance abuse prevention.
"The high school athletes are our target group for this program, but we encourage high school students of all ages to come out," said Don Smith, county Recreation and Parks recreation supervisor.
"We want to emphasize that this program isn't like boot camp. It should be a good time for all the kids." Fliers were sent to county high schools during the last week of classes, but response was low. Mr. Smith and Sergeant Fitzgerald cited the low attendance rate and exams that week as factors in the lack of replies.
"Once kids get word of this now, we may see a better turnout. I think it'll definitely give the high school athletes an advantage. The county's athletic directors really like the idea," Sergeant Fitzgerald said.
"We also want to implement the program before the winter and spring sports seasons. I think it'll cut down on the amount of sprains and muscle aches during the preseason," he said.
Registration will be conducted at the Maryland Army National Guard Armory, 350 Hahn Road, through Friday. For information, call Sergeant Fitzgerald at 876-0220 or Mr. Smith at 857-2103.