Almost every little kid that joins track wants to be a sprinter. I think the thrill of running all out for a few seconds with the crowd roaring is really appealing. Who would want to run a longer race? The longer distances don’t seem to carry as much excitement. Plus, they hurt.
Needless to say, I didn’t want to be a distance runner when I was younger. When I was about 8 years old I joined a summer track program. I convinced myself that I would compete in the 100m dash. I told myself that I was a sprinter and that’s what event I was best at.
I remember going to one track meet in a nearby town with my dad. It was really small and low-key. Each kid got an index card and wrote down the events they wanted to compete in and pinned it on the back of their shirts. I remember talking with my dad about what events I wanted to do. I, of course, said the 100m dash – along with the long jump and 4×100 (other little kid favorites). My dad, very lovingly, said, “Laurel, I’m not so sure that you should do the 100m dash. You know, neither your mom nor I are very good at sprinting. We both are better at the long distances. Maybe you should try out the 400m or something. I think you might be better at it.”
I wouldn’t budge an inch. I said, “No, Dad. I’m a sprinter. I’m doing the 100m.” Because genetics don’t matter at all… OBVIOUSLY.
“Well, how about the 200m? It’s just a little bit longer,” he tried again.
“Nope. I’m doing the 100m.” When I was little, I would oftentimes dig in my heels. And once I did, there was no turning back. My mom would often joke that I was a typical Aries child – stubborn as can be.
And so, with all of the other little kids that also thought they were sprinters, I headed over to the starting line. Even though the race only lasts a few moments, the event takes forever because so many kids want to do it.
When it was finally my turn to race, I lined up with a few other 7-8 year olds. With my adrenaline pumping and little kid competitiveness building, I toed up to the line. “On your marks, set… go!”
I started pumping my arms and legs as fast as I could make them go. Almost as soon as we took off, though, I realized I was already behind. The other little girls already had a lead! I dug in even more and tried to use every ounce of energy I could muster. My legs just couldn’t seem to move any faster. It was as if the more I tried to will them to go faster, the farther ahead the girls got. With the finish line quickly approaching I was finally able to pass one girl that seemed to be struggling. I crossed the finish slightly baffled, but mostly just disappointed. I loved winning and second-to-last in my heat didn’t suit me too well.
With a frown on my face, I slumped back over to my dad. He still said “good job” like a good dad and didn’t tell me, “I told you so.” I learned my lesson, though. I’m not a sprinter. After that race I started trying out different races, and soon learned that I was a decent distance runner. Remember, “distance runner” at that age means the 400m.
Since then, I have felt that all too familiar feeling of not being able to sprint fast enough. In longer races you can normally dig down and push into more pain to win. However, the same isn’t true for sprinting – at least, not for me. No matter how much harder I try, my legs just won’t seem to cooperate. I tell them to move faster, but they just won’t. I guess I feel a little like this pug…
I would always get frustrated in high school when we would run 200m repeats or do strides the day before a race. I just couldn’t seem to move any faster.
Luckily, I’ve learned that distance running is pretty cool. Although most little kids who sign up for track don’t think that the longer distances are as exciting, that’s because they just haven’t tried them yet. After all, I’ve never gotten a runner’s high after sprinting the 100m!
I’ve switched the settings on my blog so that anyone can comment on it – not just WordPress users. I’ve heard from a few friends that they couldn’t, so that should work now!
Also, I finally tried out substituting the oil in the black bean brownies recipe with peanut butter and it is DELICIOUS! I think it is like twice as good as it was before. The flavor kind of reminds me of those no bake PB/chocolate cookies. The batter is less liquidy and therefore bakes faster also. I love them! So, you should try them out.
Lastly, remember that ClipLight that broke after only a few runs? Well, my dad got a little crafty and managed to fix it. He used the hot glue to attach a binder clip. It now works even better! The new clip holds more tightly, so that I’m not worried about it falling off. Thanks, Dad!
How did you realize what type of runner you are? Did you have a light bulb moment like me or just gradually figured it out – or are still figuring it out?