My favorite day as a child growing up was the day that we had gym at school. It may have been, as a Catholic school girl, it was the only day we wore our sweats and not our stiff uniforms. But there was one day that not even the comfy clothes could cheer. That day was the presidential mile run day.
That dreaded mile caused me so much anxiety! A test in running? What a painful and pointless test! By the time I got to 5th grade I had had enough of this insanity and knew exactly how I would conquer the mile run and all of its misery. I would just “walk” it.
In my mind it was a win-win to what I consider a pointless test anyway. As I finished the mapped out course of yellow cones in our school parking lot, I finally felt satisfied that I “beat the system” by not trying. Then the first indication that I might have done something wrong hit me. “Oh man, Kristen, this time was a lot slower than your usual mile.” “You are usually one of my top finishers and give me such a great effort,” Coach-T yelled out as he announced my 12:55 mile time. I was slightly embarrassed but not enough to really care. I mean it was just the mile run test. I shrugged off his comment and joined my classmates.
It wasn’t until I got home from school later that night that I finally realized the gravity of my actions. “Kristen how was your day,” my Mom asked. “Didn’t you have the mile run in gym today?!” “How did it go?”. Feeling slightly unsure how this conversation was going to go and now feeling less confident, I told my mom my time. “Mom, I ran a 12:55”.
My mom looked at me in complete surprise, knowing that I had not run, as I had said, but chose to not try at the test.
Mothers have a way of knowing their children and my mom knew me. “Kristen, did you really run? Could you have tried harder?”. Why did she care so much about such a pointless run? Not wanting to let my mom in on the fact that I was now feeling guilty about my actions I insisted I had given a good effort and that it’s just a pointless mile anyway. That was when I knew I had hit a soft spot.
My mom was in the middle of training for her second marathon. In my mom’s eyes there was no such thing as a pointless mile. Running had become my mother’s “moving meditation”, her time with a good friend, a place of her own. Running had no place or point in my life then.
But now I am starting to understand. As a wife and mother of 3 young children, every mile has a point. Maybe it is time for myself, or it is a time to chat with a friend, but mostly it has become a time for me to see who I am. A place of challenge and joy.
That mile of running that use to give me so much anxiety is now where my anxieties melt away. Although you will still find me whining when I do mile repeats in a workout. I can guarantee you I have never called them pointless again.