My teenager is proudly not an athlete, which is kind of disturbing for dad (whose profession involves a lot of strenuous, physical work) and me (an accomplished athlete who spent well over a decade deeply and passionately involved in sports).
Though he generally appears to not care at all about how nonathletic he is, my son was groaning on the way to school the other day about being the slowest runner in his class and how people (primarily his shitty "best friend") were giving him grief about this. Coincidentally, that afternoon was to be the class' monthly timed run.
The coach in me combined with the mom in me spoke up quickly in a burning desire to help, stupidly thinking the objective of the run would be to finish as fast as possible:
Okay, I said. What's your plan?
Oh, he said. Well, I usually start off at sort of a slowish jog so I don't waste all of my energy at once. I'll go part of the way, like to the fire hydrant, jogging like this. Then I'll walk for a bit so I don't get too tired.
Finding this take on pacing hilarious, I momentarily stopped breathing so that I didn't laugh out loud and make him feel badly. That's because I'm a caring mom. But I did kind of gag on my bitten tongue.
Then, after a minute or so, I'll start jogging again, he continued. I like to sort of speed up and slow down to save my breath. At the end, I usually sprint for the last couple of feet.
And that's working for you? I asked.
Well, pretty much, he answered. I don't get too sweaty and tired by the end.
I'm not judging. Different objective.
However, when queried about the ceaseless teasing and comparing it to the misery of getting sweaty and tired for at the most 15 minutes, he agreed that perhaps he might want to make some adjustments to the plan. Knowing he wouldn't go for wearing a sparkly skirt, and damn, I'd left mine at home anyway, we devised the following:
His mission, should he choose to accept it
- run/jog the whole way
- don't come in last
Setting up realistic goals and executing the simple plan perfectly, satisfaction was his.
The "best friend" was last.