I played sports a lot growing up. Although basketball was by far my favorite, and still is, the biggest lesson I learned from a sport came from cross country.
I took up cross country by joining my middle school team over the summer going into 7th grade. It was August, which meant it was the hottest month of the year in my generally really hot Southern California hometown. That also meant that I was starting about a month and a half after the other kids my age. While I was a pretty good runner, I wasn’t passionate about running. I thought it was kind of fun, but I really joined because I a) wanted to improve my conditioning for basketball and b) I wanted to see if I could actually do it. I called up my friend and asked him, “Hey, wanna join the cross country team with me? Anyone can join and they’re practicing.” He was like, “Ok cool.”
I was terrified going into that first practice. Could I do it? It’s a lot of running and I’ve never done something like this before. All the other kids have at least 8 practices under their belts already. Here’s the thing about cross country practice: You don’t just show up, stretch, jog in place, run a mile or two, and then go home after some high-fives and team spirit. For us, it was more like show up, jog a mile around the patch of grass (we were in the desert), stretch some, sprints, lunges, high knees, etc. Drills on drills on drills on drills for about an hour, then we go into a 3-5 mile run through the dirt and sandy hills before ending with a light cool-down jog. Our first practice was in the books. When the second one came around, I called him again and was like, “Hey, wanna go to practice again? I think I’m gonna go.” He was like, “Naw, I don’t think this is for me.”
Funny enough, I was even MORE terrified of the second practice because, whereas with the first practice I could only guess at how hard it would be, I now had a lived experience that verified my former guesses. It was actually hard and I knew it for sure now.
After a few more times of forcing myself to go to practice, our first meet came up. An important thing happened for me when I got to the race: I realized I wasn’t afraid of it. And it wasn’t because I didn’t think the race would make me tired–I knew I’d still be tired.
I just wasn’t afraid of being tired anymore because I was prepared to handle exactly that.
EVERYONE can and will get tired, and no one can tell me any different. I learned the important thing is to not be afraid of getting tired, because the results we want often lie on the other side of being tired. Hard work is tiresome. Consider this for a moment: Instead of hoping preparation will somehow keep you from exhaustion, allow the work you put in to act as a support of sorts when you do get tired on the way to your goals.
Give it a shot for a bit. You might find yourself ahead of the pack.