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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

As If The Olympics Weren't Inspiring Enough .......

As those who know me in real life can attest to, running is not my favorite sport. I keep striving to "find the love" because I know it can be a fantastic activity for health, fitness, and overall wellness (I have to admit, my time running is my "therapy" time). However, it sometimes frustrates me beyond belief that I can't "love it more." So, imagine the sense of camaraderie I felt when I learned that Apollo Ohno at one time had similar feelings regarding running!

First, I am not a devoted Apollo fan. I definitely respect him, but early on I felt he had this young arrogance, in spite of his athletic ability, that, well, just turned me off. Over the years I think he has matured and, well, maybe I have softened, and I find myself more of a “fan.” You can’t deny his athletic abilities and superb sense and execution in most races (did you see him in the qualifying race on Saturday? That blew me away!).

Anyway, Apollo, in an article in March’s Runners World, describes his early struggles with running. I was surprised to learn that early in his career he was known as “Chunky” and had a hard time finding both success and joy with running. But, like I also know in my own head, running proved invaluable in his training and he has learned to love running (I am still working on this part!). I also found it interesting that he does his best thinking while running. That does parallel my own feelings, running is a time I sort most of the most complicated life, professional, or training dilemmas. I usually write most of my posts that I publish here in my head first while, you guessed it, running. My time running, for the most part, is the only time no one demands anything of me other than me, which is, in some ways, extremely liberating.

Even more inspiring was Apollo’s discussion of how running was so different than his skating fundamentals but it was an integral part of his training success. I have to say, it was also a relief to hear how, in the beginning, he was a horrible runner even after elevating to a high enough level to train at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. While I don’t ever think I will reach any sort of Olympic Athlete status, perhaps there is hope for me and running yet! I have to admit, I can honestly say when finished with a run I feel like I can conquer the world, so that is probably a pretty good start!

If you are interested in reading the entire article, it can be found here.

On a more general note, I LOVE the Olympics and find them extremely inspiring. Every athlete had their challenges and following their stories of surmounting their own personal demons always pushes me to do more. I also firmly believe that my preschool age child is getting a tremendous life lesson from watching the Olympics. During last the last Summer Olympics she was glued to the coverage of swimming. She was just over two years old and kept asking about the stroke styles, the races, and even wanted to hang the Michael Phelps photo of him swimming that was published in our local newspaper on her wall. The Winter Olympics this year has proven to be a slightly different experience. She is very focused on the win or lose aspect of the Games, but is beginning to understand what a tremendous accomplishment it is to actually get to participate in the Olympics and that even if an athlete loses (or gets silver or bronze) that they are very fortunate, very talented, and, most importantly, worked extremely hard to get there. She keeps describing how this athlete or that athlete had to practice and practice to get there. That little mental connection alone has been priceless.

Admittedly, while sitting in front of the television isn’t exactly the healthiest activity, the Olympics can provide tremendous inspiration and learning experience for both adults and children.

What has been your favorite Olympic moment either thus far this year, or in the past?

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