I don't know how to be athletic.
October 11, 2012 12:40 PM Subscribe
I was never an athlete. But now I might be? Help me actually be.
As a kid, I broke my arm playing AYSO soccer and was "asked to leave" of rhythmic gymnastics at age 8. I sat on the bench the one year of lacrosse, and sat out every gym class I could manage. I lack depth perception and have wonderful exercise-induced asthma.
I stayed far away from all gyms and any team sports or classes for years. But: now. I am 24. I ran my first 10k last month, and am training for a 10-miler as well as a 50k hike. I lift heavy weights, do yoga, try CrossFit, etc. And in about the past month or two, I've realized that I love rock climbing.
The people I climb - or run, or do yoga, or take a class - with are great, and make doing these things a lot more fun. But I am bad at these things. In that I fall off walls constantly - ones that should be easy. I fall over on Warrior 3. I was 274/284 in my age and gender group in my last race. Not only am I bad, these people are good - in that they have been climbing for twelve years, can do handstand push-ups, run six-minute miles...you get the picture.
I want to be better at the things that I do, not just in speed or difficulty or grace, but in getting back up when I've fallen, sticking to training plans, and enjoying moving my body. I have no illusions or intention to be the best at my activities. I just like doing them.
But I have this naggling feeling that there was something about sports as a kid or high schooler that gave these people physical and mental confidence, stick-to-it-iveness, flexibility, determination - some combination of mental fortitude and routine to continue with activities, as well as a stronger base physical fitness, neither of which I can match. These people who engaged in sports early are confident in moving themselves, interested to try new things, able to pick up new things easily (and also understand them - like, I know I'm not supposed to have my arms like that, but what else am I supposed to do, and how do I know if I"m doing it?!), and take for granted that they'll be able to continue working out or climbing or whatever. (I'm concerned that I will never be any good and just top out at some point.)
I'm certainly not about to go join a soccer team now, but I'd like to feel more at home moving my body and as "an athlete". I'm now excited when I know I'm going climbing - and nothing athletic has given me joy before. I am not quite sure how I feel about feeling like this. I feel like someone's going to call me out as not belonging at the gym any moment now. People at work see me with my gym bag and assume I'm "sporty" and "athletic" - I have to hurry to reassure them that I am not, in the slightest.
So: how can I become a "regular athlete"? How do I get more comfortable training, failing, and running my own race (literally and figuratively)? How do I move from feeling like the girl who's going to be picked last to the girl who's comfortable carrying her gym clothes around?