If you recall, high schools across North America tend to easily divide students into categories. As the 2004 smash hit and Lindsay Lohan vehicle, Mean Girls, tells us, “You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, JV jocks…varsity jocks…” In other words, students can be athletes – in which case, they are probably signed up for multiple sports and teams – or they can be, well, not.
(Side note: this is not to hate on student athletes, who are their own brand of awesome, just as we all are.)
But I was firmly in the not category when it came to student athletics. I mean, I was okay-ish. I wasn’t picked dead last in gym, but I sure as hell didn’t get picked first.
Let’s just leave it by saying that I actually used study period to study. In the library. By choice.
So when my older, significantly-more-accomplished-athletically-than-I-or-most-of-society-could-hope-to-be sister tried to tell me I could be runner I laughed and gave it exactly one shot. I went for a 20 minute run with her and hated it for 19.59 minutes. I liked the bit where we stopped. I could not imagine why people do this for fun. Honestly, what was the point of getting outside to sweat profusely in front of your neighbours as you shuffled along the gravel shoulder of a road for 20 minutes? Needless to say, I was excruciatingly sore the next day and didn’t lace up again for years (if you want to read about that, go here and here).
It wasn’t until I did that I realized we can all be athletes. You don’t need to own anything spandex, you don’t need to have a musculature that can be seen through several layers of bulky sweaters, and you certainly don’t need to be elite-anything.
My point is that athletes are not confined to specialty teams, high schools nor is it a label that should be reserved for the select few. Do you play in an intramural sport in your community? Athlete. Take in a game of squash with a co-worker occasionally? Athlete. Or, like me, lace up a few times a week and give it your best shot? Athlete.
Of course, if labels like “athlete” don’t mean anything to you, that is perfectly fine too.
But for many, myself included, reminding myself that “I. Am. An. Athlete” at the 2nd to last km on a long run can be a motivator all on its own. And that is definitely worth something.
Go run. Be awesome. Happy Running!