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Making of an Athlete

I’m still getting used to the idea of calling myself an athlete, though I am more and more confident in myself with each race, each month of strength that I gain.

It’s the first weekend of the year and I was able to fit in two runs already (off to a good start!). Thanks to the lower-body weight session I got in on Friday of all days, I am now sitting on the couch on some icepacks, cooling my hamstrings. Needless to say, weights on Friday does not make for easy weekend runs.

So, while I’m sitting here cooling my haunches, I’m working on a project I started lately where I’m cleaning up all of my photos and curating a perfect library of memories. Long before I had an iPhone full of running photos I was a high schooler with a digital camera (yikes!). It is so interesting to me to look back on those days and try to figure out who I was and how I got here. Today I am so far from the person I was 10, 20 years ago.

Back in high school you wouldn’t catch me running anywhere; you’d find me as the second to worst student in the dance class I joined in order to get out of mandatory P.E. It’s not that I had anything against sports. I liked to watch all of our school’s teams: football, track, tennis, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, soccer. I have spectated pretty much every high school sport there is!

Instead, my inner monologue had been set years earlier, “I am just not an athletic person.” To this day I have a narrative of how it happened. Second grade - I was on a summer softball team (somewhere deep down I think I remember liking it). What I remember most, though, was the foul ball that popped up over the backstop and hit me square on the shoulder while I was sitting on the bench. My mom had to take me to the snow cone truck to ask for ice. Who gets hurt sitting on the bench? Me. That’s how NOT meant for sports I felt.

Who gets hurt sitting on the bench? Me.

The real nail in the coffin, though, was when I moved to a new school, in a new state. I tried out for the middle school volleyball team. MIDDLE SCHOOL. We were literally 12 years old. Why doesn’t everyone just automatically make the team when you’re 12? I’ll never know. Needless to say, I did not make the cut, and instead of digging in and practicing more, I added to the narrative: this is not for me. I am a person who is good at school; I’m great at reading comprehension, I’m a math wiz. I do not do sports.

Fast forward 20 years. I’m still getting used to the idea of calling myself an athlete, though I am more and more confident in myself with each race, each month of strength that I gain. The first time my chiropractor called me an athlete I wished I could have poured out how NOT me that sounded. Are you sure you know who you are talking to? But it’s real. I am an athlete, no matter how slow. I found my inner athlete after all this time.

So let me tell you about my weekend in this context. Last Friday I went to the gym at 6am, by myself, and I did barbell squats and stiff leg deadlifts. I did calf raises on the dang leg press! And two days later I got up at 6:30am and ran 8 awesome miles. I am a slower runner; I know that. Once in a while it makes me replay the narrative that I’m not athletic, I’m not an athlete. So this entry is a reminder of my context and proof that we should not define ourselves today by who we were yesterday. We can re-write our story every day.

About the Author

I'm here to share my self-improvement journey. I like to get my morning run or workout started before the sun comes up.

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