Chasing Dad

When I first started running track, I didn’t know that my dad was a state champion in high school, or that he was one of Maine’s all time bests, or that he set (and still holds) a few Division 1 school records, or that he set an open New England indoor colligate record that stood for over twenty years. I only knew that he was an above average track athlete and that I had some natural talent as a runner.

My first competitive season of track started my freshman year of high school. I picked up track to try to stay in shape for soccer and basketball season. In that first season, I ran well and achieved some early goals while not having to train all that hard. My early success that spring combined with my loss of interest in soccer had me out for cross country in the fall of my sophomore year. I started running more and training harder all throughout my sophomore year with high hopes for the spring. I was completely immersing myself into the sport. My budding interest in the sport of distance running led me to find out of all of my dad’s accomplishments. After learning of all of his feats, I couldn’t help but compare myself to him. I didn’t run track to try to compete with my dad, I just wanted to challenge myself and continue improving individually. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy. Track differs from other sports because athletes who run the same events can be directly compared. It can be difficult to compare athletes in other sports because of differing positions played, ability of teammates, etc. With track, it is the same distances, on the same surfaces with the same timing systems and direct comparisons can be made.

Trying to compete with the times my father ran in his high school years, I rapidly increased the volume and intensity of my training. This resulted in a season ruining injury or sickness as well as never ending frustration in practically every season. By the time my junior year came around I was only just faster than I was when I started as a freshman.

My senior year of high school, I took a slightly different approach to training and mentally I focused less and less on the comparison between my dad and I. I decided that I was going to run for me because it was what I wanted to do.  As a result I started running faster and ended up winning a few state championships of my own. When I finally accomplished these things, it was as if a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I’ve now grown to the point where I feel as if I am solely competing for myself.  I don’t compete to rival my dad or gain his approval; I race because I enjoy pushing myself past limits and reaching new heights. This new understanding has made the sport of competitive distance running at Colby College much more enjoyable for me than my experiences in high school. I now run for myself and I’m content.

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One Response to Chasing Dad

  1. Fearless Leader ugogal says:

    My older brother was a great runner, but I always found that more inspirational than anything. (Of course, I’m a female, so there can’t be direct comparisons like in your case.) Your dad must not be a braggy guy, because then you certainly would have known how good he was…hopefully you can embrace your legacy and become stronger because of it…I’ll bet he LOVES to watch you race, and I’ll also bet his eyes don’t glaze over when you tell him your splits….

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