The boy (6-years-old) is going to soccer camp this week. But, he’s also going through a phase where all he wants to do is act a bleeding fool all the freakin’ time. His mom is on the verge of trading him in, and the coach at soccer camp is on the verge of leaving him at backfield, which, for 6-year-old soccer is the equivalent of being the kid off in left field picking daisies. (I remember it vividly.)
Anyway, after bath, I decided we’d try something a bit different tonight. It was cooling off, about 70, so I decided that it’s time that Jake learns to run.
Yeah, you read that right – “Learns to run.”
Learning to Run
‘Cause I’ve come to realize that distance running isn’t a skill that comes naturally to most people. It really isn’t. We’re set up, physiologically, to sprint. The whole “Fight-or-Flight” response, and that instinct, is what’s honed in us for most of our lives, especially in a world of fast twitch video games, sound bites, and deep philosophical discussions summed up in a 30-second ad on television.
So I said “Hey, let’s practice running down to the end of the block and back”—a trip of all of about half a mile. “Sure,” says the boy.
The out went like this—Jake would sprint as fast as he could for as long as he could without breathing, then stop and watch as I jogged by. Then he’d sprint again, laughing hysterically.
At the turn he was really starting to drag, so I summoned up the good parts of the military battalion OCS runs, and we started making up and singing jodies all the way back to the house. Next thing we know, we were passing the driveway—more than a quarter mile without me saying, “C’mon, Jake…”
I was happy, he was happy, the bees buzzed, the birds sang, and the last rays of twilight beat down on our ears.
Which is when it hit me—people do need to be taught how to run. As silly as that sounds, there is some level of skill involved—regulating pace, regulating breathing, etc. For a lot of us, being stubborn and working through pain is enough to learn those skills. But for others (and looking back, I’m in this category), rhythm, pace, and breathing don’t come naturally at all.
Which is another thing that might come in handy with the whole portable music player thing—running with tunes can be akin to having someone call cadence in your ear. Doesn’t do much for the breathing, unless you try to sing along.
Which you should.
Why is another column entirely…