Thursday, April 26, 2012

Parenting my way to better running

A funny thing happened to me while out for a run yesterday - I found myself working for it.

Now, you might be saying, Duh, of course you were.  Running isn't easy.  Everyone knows that.  And, you would be right.  But, you can be lazy at it, and that is what I have been.

Of late, I have written a lot about how I have gotten moderately faster in recent months.  I wasn't really sure why, but yesterday I think I got a glimpse into at least part of the answer.  During my typical Wednesday morning group run, I was running with a friend who clearly was enjoying pushing me beyond my comfort zone.  I wasn't feeling it - my legs were tired and I hadn't prepared properly for the run - but I tried to keep up anyway.  Then it occurred to me - I was working for it.  

For some, this may be a "duh" moment, but for me it was an "aha" moment.  You see, I have always been a lazy runner, and in fact a lazy person.  I have always gravitated towards things that were easy for me.  If I didn't have a natural talent for something, I didn't do it.  Running is really the ONLY activity in my life that I have continued to do even after realizing I wasn't initially good at it (well, besides parenting, and with that I don't have much of a choice).  But even then, I haven't worked at it.  In fact, I had all but given up on it.  I had come to the conclusion a while back that I was not fast and would never be fast and that there was no need to ever really try to improve from there.  

Yesterday, however, while struggling to keep up, I had a flash to the fact that I am always telling my children that if they want to get good at something, then they need to practice, practice, practice.  That very few of us are born with an innate natural talent that we just excel at without putting a lot of effort into it.  But this was really a case of "do as I say not as I do," because my kids don't really see me struggling with anything - really working toward something.  Running should be the "shining" example of my work ethic for my kids (it's my one main hobby).  But, in fact, I had settled, become complacent with it.  

But then I started thinking, Really? Is THAT the lesson I want to teach my children?

And the short answer is NO.  I don't want to be that example.  

I guess this has all been on my mind lately because E. started flag football recently - yes, my daughter.  Football.  She is the only girl on the team.  (Heck, there aren't even that many in the whole league.)  And she is LOVING it - not the fact that she is the only girl (I don't even think she's noticed, really), but the football.  What kind of parent would I be if I told her that she didn't have much of a future in it?  If I taught her to be complacent? A terrible one, that's what.  Instead, I want to tell her to LOVE it!  Embrace it.  Learn as much as she can from it.  Work HARD at it, and the rewards will come.  However, I can't just TELL her this.  I know this now.  I need to SHOW her.

I want to show both of my kids that things aren't always easy, but if you keep at it, you can get better.  Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that I would rather be that person - and that example - rather than the complacent, deal-with-the-hand-you-are-dealt example.  It's easy to be complacent; it's much harder to move yourself to find new challenges to conquer.

If E. is going to play football in a mostly all-boys, coed league, then I want her to be the best player she can be.  And, if I am going to run, I want to be the best runner I can be.  

For myself, I have made up my mind to find new challenges, set new goals, work hard, and see where it all leads.  I want to be an example of how hard work pays off.  

And, if need be, I will be that example of how if you fail, you pick yourself up again and start over.  After all, I have little people watching my every move.  

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world.  There is no doubt in my mind about that.  Trying to raise caring, loving, respectful, thoughtful, thinking human beings is a tall order - especially when sometimes I just want to scream in frustration at their antics and tell them to figure it all out on their own, mama is mentally checking out and will be back soon. But with parenting, as with anything you want to be good at, you can't just mentally check out.  You have to keep plugging away.

Happy Running!

More Run Away to the Bay Pictures...

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