Summer Running Camp: What My Daughter Has Taught Me About Perseverance

We are fortunate to have a strong running community where I live. This Summer our local track club offered a free Summer running camp in the evenings to prepare elementary aged kids to run a mile race on the Fourth of July. The camp focuses on teaching proper warmup/cross training, nutrition and hydration, and of course the fundamentals of running (rule one being to have fun!).

This is the second year that Anne has taken part in the camp, and it started off with a bang in the form of a timed trial.  The common nightmare of being forced to run a mile in gym class was literally life. Parents were invited to join the children to offer encouragement and support, so of course I hopped in with her. Anne has a natural love for running, but a body built for sprints… She can fly over the ground in short bursts, but anything resembling endurance will cause her to stumble.

Running on the grass around our high school athletic fields, the kids were asked to complete two laps (half a mile each). At the sound of the start gun (this was seriously official) Anne made the rookie mistake of booking it out, beating every kid and their mama on the straight away. Our lead lasted all of two minutes until Usain Bolt realized that she was tired. Our sprint turned into a crawl, and soon we were eating dust.

I knew by this point that this little girl was tired, but she did not complain once. She took things one step at a time: running when she found her breath, walking when she needed to. In this fashion we finished first one lap with an obligatory stop at the water station (aka daddy), and then a second. By staying present in the moment and listening to her body, Anne finished the trial with a respectable pace of 11:08.

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Watching this five year old run made me call to mind my own challenges and struggles. As an adult it is easy to overcomplicate things and over rationalize the obstacles that rise up in our paths. We are great for talking ourselves out of things because it may be too hard or outside of our comfort zone, when if we just held on for a moment longer we might have realized success.

It is those dark places where we breathe in the moment and just take things one day, one step at a time, that the magic happens. Everything worth pursuing takes effort, and a look inward. Sometimes you need to step back and take a look at the bigger dream, the reason you have taken on this particular dragon. Fortitude is a muscle to be built and shaped like anything else, but unlike the body which wears away with time and inactivity, inner strength becomes a part of your being and whole. There is always discomfort when there is growth, but if we learn to lean into it just a little bit closer and embrace it just a little bit longer, how much further might we go?

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Question of the Day:

What scares you? Are there any challenges that you overcame when you thought you couldn’t?

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