Instructor Spotlight: On Being “Naturally Athletically Gifted”

In high school, I was told by a coach that I wasn’t “naturally athletically gifted”, “would never amount to anything as an athlete,” and my favorite, “you should probably quit trying.” That. Hurt. That hurt really, really bad. That conversation felt like a dagger to the heart and absolutely killed my confidence…

About two years later, I was at a cross country meet watching my then boyfriend (now husband) compete and either by divine intervention or pure dumb luck, I was approached by the cross country coach for the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  I told him I wasn’t a runner and wasn’t athletic (see previous paragraph) but he didn’t care. He asked me if I could just try. Well, sure, I guess can try.

Joining that team was absolutely terrifying. All of the girls were nice, and Coach Mulligan was one the best coaches I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. But it was SCARY.  I was running with girls who were fast (these were the “natural athletes” my high school coach was talking about). But you know what? I was still running with them. I had to work harder for it – their recovery pace was my race pace – but I was there, giving 100% every time. Admittedly, I was NEVER the fastest one on the team. I generally finished last, or close to it, every practice. But I was part of the team, I had a coach that believed in me, and I started to gain back the confidence that was crushed a few years prior. And it was during this time that I completely fell in love with running.  Was I good at it? No. Did it come easy? Heck no! But I loved the challenge.

Now, I’ll give credit where credit is due, my high school coach was 100% right. He was right when he said that I wasn’t naturally athletically gifted – no matter how hard I tried, athletics would never come easily to me. That conversation stuck with me (how couldn’t it), and to be honest, I still think about it today. That conversation still hurts. It’s never fun to be told you’re bad at something – it’s even worse to be told you’re so bad at something you should quit trying. I still struggle to run up every hill, I absolutely detest sprints, and I have to fight for every stride, every mile.

But it’s okay to not be “naturally” good at something. And it’s okay to try something and be absolutely horrible at it. It’s okay to fail, make mistakes, be scared and it’s okay to struggle. Lately, I try to live my life fearless and confident, knowing I’m not going to be great at everything, heck I might not even be good at it, and that is okay.

If you’re like me, starting your workout journey can be daunting, and downright scary, so here are a few tips that helped me get started:

  1. Workout with a group of friends. This group will be your best support system and your loudest cheerleaders, when your motivation drops and you start feeling down on your progress.
  2. Schedule a time for your workouts. Never miss this date with yourself.
  3. Find something interesting to listen to. I personally love running out to podcasts because it makes the time seem to go so much faster (20-mile training runs, amirite?). But if you’re a music junkie, make the ultimate workout playlist, or try a themed fitness class featuring one of your favorite artists.
  4. Keep track of your workouts. For me, I get really down on myself when I don’t PR on every run, so I like to look back on past runs to see how much progress I’ve actually made.
  5. Just start. Remember the hardest part of your workout is usually the first steps out of your door!

Related Posts

5 Tips for a Balanced Workout Routine

Should You Be Lifting Heavy or Light Weights to Build Muscle? Here’s the science.

Sun shining on a row of treadmills

5 Ways Your Morning Workout Is Setting You Up for Success

New to Studio Fitness? Here Are Our Top Tips

Redefining fitness–to empower you to reach your strongest self. Redefining fitness–to empower you to reach your strongest self.
Redefining fitness–to empower you to reach your strongest self. Redefining fitness–to empower you to reach your strongest self.