This past weekend, I was with my Cross Country (XC) team at one of our weekend meets. While there, I ran into a friend and fellow XC runner from high school who is now also a fellow XC coach. We had fun catching up as we fondly reminisced about the diabolical and stern coach of our youth: Mr. Sharp.
Mr. Sharp would encourage by levels of facial scowls and his words were usually shouted rather than spoken. Race days were a treat compared to practice. And Monday’s practice after a bad weekend performance often produced tears (and a return of our lunch!). Mr. Sharp operated our 60+ runner team like a drill sergeant runs a platoon. But there were those moments…the pat on the back and “Good race today, Mike”…or just a simple smile in the finish line chute after you gave the race of your life. These simple gestures motivated us for months if not years to come. And it was these gestures and these moments that were the topics of our “glory days” conversation as we stood on the same hallowed XC course that we used to run just a few decades ago. But our stroll down memory lane was abruptly interrupted, as our runners emerged from the woods and we each loudly shouted “pump your arms”…”get up there with the pack”…”get up that hill”…and other words of encouragement. We looked at each other and laughed as if to say I guess all of Mr. Sharp’s methods weren’t so bad.
We all need loving and nurturing people in our life. These can be our parents, a spouse, teachers, mentors, and friends. It’s these people and their kindness that become our foundation in life. But we also need the type of people that tell us like it is, whether we want to hear it or not. They tell us to get off our butt and just do it. They tell us to be the best that we can be. They don’t overly celebrate our victories, and they describe success as a journey more than a destination. Their words can burn in our ears, but the actions they inspire can provide a jolt of motivation that propel us for many years to come.
If you’re stuck in a lull in your fitness routine, look outside your circle of comfort to a walking club, a gym trainer, a martial arts sensei, or a running coach. You may just find the motivator that you need to help you on your way.
You can find The Original Bullhorn and other motivational fitness information in the October 2007 article of The Bullhorn. You can sign up for this free monthly e-zine below.