I have been coaching a Girl’s HS team and in hopes of inspiring the team – it has given me a reason to pause and look into why I run, why we run? What is our motivation and reason for pushing ourselves in every race that we do – to get out of the comfort zone and willingly experience a bit of pain? I asked the girls why did they join XC, why are they running – what makes them show up every day to do something potentially uncomfortable. Their reasons at 14, 15, 16 years old are probably not that different from yours.
I started running in High School and I did it because my friends were there, to be social, to be part of a HS team. But I did not like running, I couldn’t even run a mile at the first practice. If you had told me then that not only would I still be running, but I have made a career as a runner (certainly not as an elite runner, but in the community) – I never would have believed it. I am sure there are many of you that never would have thought yourselves a runner. There might be some of you that still don’t – but you are!
Coaching running is less about the running skills and more about the mental tricks, tips and strategies you can use in a race. It is about teaching mental strength and the reasons for putting yourself through the pain that is associated with running. These are skills that we all will need at some point in life. I talk to the team about “embracing the suck,” – how not only will it make them physically stronger but mentally as well. When everything else around you feels a bit out of control, running is something that we can use to get back control – the pace, the route, the attitude – the feeling of success after each run.
In coaching, I often use the stories of those that are in our races and how they inspire me to run – because it is a privilege. We get to hear these amazing stories of why people are running – they lost weight, they beat cancer, they just got out a destructive relationship – they are amazing stories. One of our runner’s motto is “Because I can now!” That is incredibly inspiring.
Not only does it help us stay in shape (although that is much harder than it used to be for me!) – it helps many of us stay sane. I do my best thinking
when I am running – figure out some problems that have plagued me or helps me organize my thoughts and conquer some battle that is ahead.
But sometimes it is just to be with friends, and to have that feeling of flying when you are “in the zone,” to be outside, to have that epic story, and to feel better.
Every person has a different reason for running – what is your story? We would love to hear them! Please share in the comments.