Lessons from Jr. High Cross Country
My oldest son comes by running naturally. My husband and I have both been distance runners since we were about our son’s age. Our son has never not known us as runners. Somewhere along the line, he picked up our love for running.

Running for the past 25 years has certainly taught me a lot of life lessons that have contributed a great deal to who I am today. Yet even after all these many years of running, experiencing it through my son’s budding love for the sport has brought new perspective I failed to learn on my own.

Watching my son develop as a runner has taught me the following 5 lessons about how to run a successful race:

  1. Watch your form. Coordination is not the strongest ability for most junior high boys. Yet as they learn to run with good form and to stay relaxed at the same time, as they make good form a habit, their speed naturally increases. Watching this transformation illustrates the importance of fundamental habits, which really find application in every area of life.
  2. Make your move before it’s too late. Toward the end of the race, there’s often a point when a runner must take off to catch the runner in front of him. Too soon, and he’ll lose steam before catching him. Too late, and he’ll run out of time. This ability for timing comes with experience. As I watch these boys learn this ability, awareness of my own timing in many areas of my own life increases.
  3. Get off to a fast start. As the season progressed, my son learned that he usually finished about where he started. For this reason, he worked to get off to as fast a start as possible and to hold that place as best as he could to the finish line. This consistently worked well for him. Too many times in life, my hesitance and slow start in some area led to disappointment in my final result. My son’s example gives me inspiration to be a better starter so I can be a better finisher.
  4. Practice how you want to race. Only when my son began to increase his effort in practice did his race times begin to really improve. He learned a valuable lesson about focus and effort with daily habits and routines, much like his younger brother did this year in football. The overlapping Life Lessons Learned from Rocket Football and running a successful race contribute greatly to my own personal growth more than I ever expected them to.
  5. Realize that running is mostly mental. Sure, physical strength and ability matter too, but one’s mental strength often trumps another’s purely physical ability. This year, my son learned that he could be a top runner. When he realized this, he started runner faster and believing for even more success with running in the future. Watching him develop mental strength leads me to realize the importance of my own mental strength, especially its impact on my physical ability as well as how crucial continually growing mentally is in my own life.

A successful race does not necessary mean getting first place. But it does mean running your best. When one learns to do that consistently, he finds that running defines more than just his physical ability. And its lessons apply to more than just running, both for the runner himself and those watching his growth too.

DISCUSSION: What one point above can you immediately apply to your own life? How will you apply it?

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