Getting ‘sporty’ on my own terms

October 1, 2012 6 Comments »
Getting ‘sporty’ on my own terms

I remember an old television commercial that showed a jogger pounding the pavement in the early hours of the morning. It’s obviously cold outside and a woman smugly watches from her window as she snuggles under her blanket and drinks a hot cup of coffee.

For years, that was totally me, minus the nasty instant coffee.

Even though I’m active in other ways, I’ve always said I would never run. So it was a big surprise when I started hearing, almost imperceptible, whispers in my head saying I should try it. At first I ignored them; the louder, smugger, coffee-drinking lady in my brain drowned out the faint whispers.

Then I went to buy a new pair of walking shoes because my old ones were completely worn out. I found myself asking the salesman if these shoes would be appropriate if, say, I felt like bursting into a run. I looked around to see who asked that insane question, but he was still looking straight at me and said yes, you’ll be good in these.

Apparently technology has come a long way in the 10 years since I last bought a pair of running shoes because I did, in fact, feel like bursting into a run when I had them on.

And so it began. A few minutes of walking followed by a minute of running, and back and forth until I was shocked to find I am able to run longer than I walk. I’ve been doing this most mornings since mid-August and find the solitude addictive. Running is time for me to think, when I can just be Sara, as opposed to Sara the wife, mom, friend, etc.

This unexpected development, combined with the tennis lessons I’ve started taking, has caused this non-sporty mom to re-evaluate some long-held beliefs. Attitudes such as “I don’t like sports.” And “I am not good at sports.” And “I don’t like competitive situations.”

It’s true that I will usually avoid competition. And I felt a bit of panic when my first tennis lesson changed from a simple rally to keeping track of points. I’m not crazy about letting people down or failing to measure up. And although it is billed as a beginner class, I’m pretty sure I am the only true, never-picked-up-a-racket-before beginner, so I knew I would be, in the words of our tennis instructor, the “non-winner”.

In the past this feeling would have made me feel like quitting, but now I think differently. After being involved with Active for Life and exploring what sport and activity means to raising healthy kids, I see that I need to push past my discomfort around competition and not knowing what I’m doing and just focus on learning this new skill. Once I know how to play, I can do my own thing and find some like-minded people to play with. I’m also open to the possibility that the competition will end up being part of the fun.

Two people I am looking forward to playing with are my kids, ages 7 and 5. After seeing my excitement about learning the sport, they both want to sign up for spring tennis. This is a small miracle, given that the courts are right behind our house and I’ve been after them to try tennis for a while. But, until I pushed myself out of my own comfort zone and tried it, they wouldn’t budge.

We always talk about being role models to our children, but it’s pretty powerful stuff to see the attitude and behaviour shift first hand.

So, while I may never be considered “sporty” in the traditional sense, I’m getting sporty on my own terms. And although I make no promises to run on cold, dark mornings, and I will always love snuggling up on my couch, reading and drinking tea, it’s pretty cool that I’ve surprised myself to the extent that I really don’t know what I’ll do next.

Running is time for me to think, when I can just be Sara, as opposed to Sara the wife, mom, friend, etc.

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6 Comments

  1. Christine Rigby October 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    I love that your kids wanted to pick up tennis only after having seen you give it a try. I am the exact opposite of you, I love competition and can’t really have fun unless the score is being recorded (even as I type that I realize how ridiculous it sounds). But I’m trying very hard to NOT teach my kids that lesson. But I honestly can’t help it, whether it’s a game of pictionary or tennis, I love the competition!

    • Sara Smeaton
      Sara Smeaton October 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much for your comment. I guess we wouldn’t make great tennis partners then! And I do sort of cringe at the thought of game night too…

  2. Gordon Smeaton October 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Sara,

    An inspiring tennis (and participation) story – I will share with our family this evening!!

    • Sara Smeaton
      Sara Smeaton October 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gord!

  3. Alison Johnson February 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    What type of shoes did you end up getting? I have been toying with the idea of trying jogging. Your post is making me think that it is possible for this middle aged hyphenate to possibly try it and maybe even like it. Any encouragement would be appreciated.

    • Sara Smeaton
      Sara Smeaton February 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Alison, I got a pair of Nike Ladies Zoom Structure 15 Shoes (FA12) but if, like me, it’s been a while since you bought a pair of running shoes you’ll probably find there are a lot of great choices. As for encouragement, as long as you have the blessing of your doctor, I believe that trying new things keeps us young! And you are already thinking about it so why not go for it! You can start slowly like I did and build up based on your own comfort level. You might really surprise yourself with how much you enjoy it. I’ve had to take a break from the jogging this winter so I’ll be starting from scratch in the spring too. I’d love to hear how you’re doing with it all so please keep me posted! Cheering you on!!

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