I used to be convinced endurance sports hated me, and I hated them. I lived under this idea for most of my life, but I also felt lost in the world of athletics for most of my life. I was sure I was going to become the star player of every sport I played, until I got about a month into it and realized I didn’t like chasing balls across fields or getting dizzy doing flips or being judged on appearance. I had never found my niche or passion; I just bought a lot of tie-dyed shin guards and tights.
1. Soccer – I set up drills in my front yard after watching “She’s the Man” in elementary school. I didn’t make the travel team, turns out you have to be able to do more than jump over strategically placed sticks to play soccer. I was also somewhat more preoccupied with the dandelions in the field than with the ball, which seemed to bother the coach for some reason.
2. Gymnastics – I have a theory most every girl did gymnastics at one point in time. It didn’t work out, but the foam pit was enjoyable.
3. Competitive cheerleading – Well, this was an interesting experience. All I can say is never again. Forcing mascara on to a six-year old as she jumps around in a short skirt may have slightly scarred me. I’m also now convinced my body was never meant to do flips. Or hold up other spandex-clad six-year-olds as judges base our worth on how many fly-aways are in our perfectly curled hair.
4. Dance – This lasted a few years, which was impressive for me. I had a secret dream that I could be a prima ballerina. That dream was shot down rather quickly when I realized my hamstrings would never be the equivalent of rubber. They just won’t.
5. Half-marathons – This is where my love affair with running began. It wavered, and I was by no means an impressive runner (my first half-marathon took three hours). But I finished. And I was hungry for more.
6. Cross Country – This is where I was convinced endurance sports hate me. From the age of 14 to 17 I’ve had six stress fractures and one or two stress reactions. I’ve honestly lost count. I kept coming back to cross country thinking the next year would be better, but it didn’t matter how many ice baths I took or hours I spent rolling out on the foam roller. Every season ended the same as the previous, with crutches or in a boot watching my teammates race. Despite these setbacks, I transformed as a student, athlete and person during these three years plagued by injury, but that’s another story altogether.
7. Swimming – I was advised to do a non-impact sport. I loved the team, the difficult workouts and the meets, but I was by no means a star swimmer. Which was frustrating. I embraced the mediocrity through my love for my teammates, but I also constantly sought more.
8. Triathlon – It doesn’t require mascara, but I still have to get over my fear of spandex. This sport found me in my time of need and for good reason. Just a few years ago triathlon was a foreign concept to me, now it occupies my every thought, day and dream. I think I may have finally found my niche.