Saturday, November 03, 2007

Aimees Soapbox July 2007

Aimee's July Soapbox
July 2007: Assessment without Judgement
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Greetings Groovy Soapbox Readers!

When I was younger, both of my parents were Health & PE teachers and both of them coached. So I pretty much came into this world with no choice but to play sports. The backyard of our house had a volleyball net, croquet wickets, and a jumble of Frisbees, whiffle balls, and soccer balls in it year-round. My dad taught me how to shoot a bow-n-arrow. And I was even the mascot for my mom's field hockey team when I was eight.

Now, my parents didn't just teach me the fundamentals and skills needed to play a variety of sports. They also taught me sportsmanship and the importance of discipline and dedication. And most importantly, they showed me how sports is a metaphor for life and how to use it for proper self- improvement.

Now that I am older and have done my own training and coached others, I can see that not everyone got this same memo. I think a lot of folks were taught some excellent skills, but a lot of people missed out on that "proper self-improvement" speech.

When I say Proper Self-Improvement, what I really mean is Self-Analysis without Judgment. (Side Note: I don't think that this phenomenon is limited to athletes and sports, but those are the parameters of this Soapbox, so there you go.)

In my 28 years of playing sports, competing, and coaching, I have noticed far too many people who will obsess over their times or weekly mileage or their stats for the sole purpose of running themselves down. Ummm, not cool. In fact, this is the least Groovy Behavior in all the Wide World of Sports.

I mean, think about it. If you are trying to IMPROVE your performance, how does it help to beat yourself up over missing a day of exercise or missing your PR by twenty seconds? Does this make you run faster or farther? Does comparing yourself to another runner suddenly make you as fast as that runner? And even if you did suddenly become as fast as that other runner, would anything really, truly be different?

Good athletes do not judge themselves as human beings based on a time or a score. One person is not better than another because he ran a faster 5K or lifted more weight or threw a ball farther. And bad- mouthing yourself and running yourself down because of perceived flaws in your training journals only makes you a Small and Sorry Lump without contributing to real improvement. So cut it out, OK?

Just go run and be groovy! Hike and be groovy! Swim and be groovy! Do what you do and remember always to be groovy. You don't want to be the Small and Sorry Lump. . . .
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