4/9/19: Yeah, I Did That
The Morning Mantra is available on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, Youtube and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found. Transcripts forthcoming on the blog at www.coachedandloved.com
YOU SHOULD FOLLOW COACH SARAH ON www.slowtwitchprose.com and on Instagram! We are THRILLED to have her officially joining the team at www.fitnessprotection.com! She also validates my decision not to force my kids to do anything, especially sports. I won't ever stop them, but I won't force them, either.
Intro: Where did everyone else get this natural ability to win, and why do I suck so conspicuously? It's thoughts like these that have led me to swear off miniature golf for the rest of my life.
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Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.
Mantra: Yeah, I did that.
You know when you go and participate in one of those sports that’s supposed to be fun? I’m talking about bowling, waterskiing, and yes, miniature golf. I know there are people who work to cultivate actual skills in these activities and people who veritably excel at it. Those people don’t make me feel bad; I would never have a problem with being a worse bowler than The Dude. But put me in a situation where everyone’s at the lake and it’s time to take turns getting up on waterskis, and I probably won’t sleep the night before. It’s precisely because it’s “supposed to be fun” – everyone’s going to insist that it’s just a game, and those same people will go on to be effortlessly good at it. I’m going to be the one flailing in the water as everyone else looks on and good-naturedly encourages me. I’m going to be the one with tears of rage that will only humiliate me more when they finally come out.
You see, I’m related to a lot of people who have excelled in at least one sport. My cousins, my aunts and uncles, my parents, my brother. They were recruited athletes and collegiate team captains, forming a circle I couldn’t ascend to. Crew, volleyball, field hockey, water polo, lacrosse, and more crew (a lot more crew). My father sat me down as I prepared to enter high school and gently but firmly told me that there would be a family requirement of at least one team sport each year. I wanted him to be proud of me, so I picked two: soccer and tennis. It would not be a stretch to call me the worst player on both teams – my doubles partner in tennis actually stormed off the court during a match because I missed every single damn shot that bounced on my side. My dad came to watch me play tennis that day, and I remember feeling bad that he’d had to leave work to witness something so embarrassing.
I know why he wanted me to be on sports teams. So many important life lessons to learn! Discipline, fundamentals, teamwork, perseverance, and of course that thing we love to talk about, learning from failure. Going back to practice day after day even though it felt like I never got any better. I understood, intellectually, that this was the point, but I still found failing so embarrassing. My brother was often frustrated with his own sports performance, my dad would remind me, and that was true, but I’d seen my brother pitch strikes and hit doubles and score baskets and win crew races. He worked hard and he saw results; what was wrong with me that my work yielded no such thing?
I’d love to say that when I started running, I found the thing that I could be good at, but around the time I started running, my two younger cousins, both in high school, had both begun to show serious promise as track and cross-country runners. Around the time I ran my first 5K in 33 minutes, they were breaking schoolwide records at various distances. So there went that. How to even talk about my running in a room where people knew of their accomplishments? Or anyone else’s running accomplishments, for that matter?
Answer: with a lot of qualifications. You run marathons? Well yeah, but really slowly. You won your age group at the 10K? Well yeah, but there were only three women in my age group. You get the picture. It was like I was trying to anticipate the cross examination and head it off at the pace. It’s okay, I know I’m not really a runner. I’m aware that my brother ran his first marathon undertrained and beat my best-ever time by 30 minutes. I might be mediocre, but at least I’m not delusional.
Sometimes, I wish I could sit down with my family and tell them that this was how I felt, always. That I looked up to them and that I tried to be what I thought they wanted me to be, but that I felt like an impostor in their midst. But if I said that to them, what would I be hoping to get? The meaningful change that I can make, the thing I can control, is how I talk about myself, my accomplishments. I ran a marathon. I ran another one less than a year later. I’ve done a lot of things wrong as a runner, and I’ve had to slow things down, adjust my expectations, accept less-than-ideal circumstances. But 14 years later, I’m still showing up, doing the thing I hoped I could get better at when I ran that first 5K. My family is still full of people who insist they’re not that good at mini golf or water skiing, and they’re still better at it than I am. I don’t like it any more than I ever did when I stroke out on four consecutive holes. Those moments are still hard. But here’s what I have to hold onto: I am literally the only one who experiences miniature golf as anything other than a fun game with no meaning. That much, at least, is something I can control. No one is saying I suck except me; in fact, they’re saying I don’t suck, and I’m refusing to believe them.
Here’s where it started for me: I. Did. That. You ran a marathon? Yeah, I did that. You won your age group? Yeah, I did that. You ran 40 miles last week? Yeah, I did that. You ran with a baby in a jogging stroller up a mountain in Montana? Yeah, I did that.
It feels weird at first to say “yeah I did that” with no apologies. I promise you, though, give it time and practice it a lot. Persevere. You’ll be glad you did.
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You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And you're definitely winning at life if you subscribe to my Nuzzel Newsletter, follow me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram. feel free to do all three!