As a kid, my dad took us to AAU all-comers track meets. He was a big-time track star growing up and I know he would have loved to have one of his kids follow in his footsteps. In a scrap book in my mom's attic there are a TON of "participant" ribbons, maybe a few second and third place ribbons and one or two blue, first place ones. Those times I placed, it is very possible I was the only one in my event. I was never very good.
In junior high, I did cross country and track. Once again, I was never very good. In fact, I hated it. I never won a race and never felt like I would improve enough to win a race (or come close to placing). I never worked hard enough to win a race. I quit. The high school track coach tried to talk me into joining because I could run hurdles. The state hurdling champ was graduating from our high school that year. I didn't want to run in her shadow because I knew I wouldn't be very good. I joined the speech team instead.
Twenty-seven years later it isn't about winning or losing. It is about getting out there and getting strong. It is about competing against myself. It is about having some "me" time. You know... I don't even know how slow I ran a mile when I ran cross country. I only know that it wasn't any fun- no one talked to me (and if you know me, you KNOW that is torture for me), I hurt by the end and I was often bringing up the rear. Now I often have fun, I talk to whomever I am running with (and sometimes perfect strangers) and it usually doesn't hurt.
Basically, here is what I have learned about running that I wish I knew at 13...
- It really can be fun
- Races aren't always about winning (actually, in my case they are never about winning)
- Slow runs can be some of the most enjoyable
- It actually takes work and commitment to improve at something
- I wouldn't always have the metabolism of a hummingbird and exercise is my friend *wink* (had I known that one, I might have avoided some heartache after the "freshman 15" and the "30-something pudge")
This post was inspired by last week's Take It and Run Thursday on Runners Lounge.