I was running on the treadmill today, and it ocurred to me that I now have an answer to a puzzling middle school conundrum: why some of my friends were so much faster than me.
I get why some were slower…I was more fit and more determined to prove my speed. But it was always a wonder how Julien and Sam and Mitch could run a mile in under 7 minutes with ease.
Here’s the answer: they did sports.
Not sports like I did, recreational soccer and tennis where Riley’s dad was the coach.
No, they did club sports with a squad of professional coaches. Coaches who cared about their fitness, who drilled them until they dropped.
More importantly, they were surrounded by other kids in a high-performance culture. They pushed each other, celebrating the hard work they put in to get better. To develop skill, speed, endurance.
I had a bunch of peers who moaned and groaned about running and loved kicking soccer balls into the net—but only until our legs were tired, then it was time for a break. I had a lifetime of challenge-shirking to overcome.
So of course some kids ran faster in sixth grade PE. They started training in first grade. They had hundreds of coach interactions and drills, thousands of hours of mental and physical practice.
The nice part is that this wasn’t so long ago. I can probably run a good mile five years from now, if I start practicing today.