Encourage or Discourage?

Is this another running story or could it be a homeschooling one?…

Yesterday I came home from my plod around the playing fields with a huge smile on my face: I’d kept up with the third week of the Podrunner intervals series. In fact it was the second time I’d ran/walked the whole distance properly without giving up during the running segments. But I have to admit I didn’t do it easily. I had to keep chanting, “I can do it! I can do it!” while wondering if I was in fact going to collapse on the field and have to be carried home… Well, maybe I’m exaggerating just a tiny bit.

I can now run the two 90 seconds segments and the two 3 minute segments that are sprinkled in amongst the walking bits. That doesn’t sound a lot, does it? But it certainly feels a long way to me!

Last night I had an important decision to make: Should I remain on this level until it comes easily to me or should I push on to the next challenge?

I had a look at the run schedule for the week 4 program. There are 4 running segments, two lasting 3 minutes each and two lasting 5 minutes each. My heart sank and I thought, “How can I go from 3 to 5 minutes? I’ll never keep moving for that long.” The challenge seemed too big.

I mulled my problem over with Andy who reminded me, “Sue, two and a half weeks ago, you weren’t running any distance. You weren’t even sure you could run. Now you’re running almost all the way around the playing fields in one go.”

Almost all the way around the playing fields? That’s nearly 500 metres or half a kilometre if that sounds more.

Andy added, “Don’t focus on what you can’t do at the moment. Think about what you can do!”

I know he is right. If I spend too much time thinking I can’t run for a 5 minute stretch, then I will get discouraged. I will give up and I will never do it.

I think about how my children learn:

Gemma-Rose is eager to show me a story she has written. She thrusts it into my hand and stands back feeling very pleased with herself. I start to read and soon realise she has made a lot of spelling mistakes. Do I say, “You’ll have to work on your spelling,” and then watch her face drop? Maybe she’ll never want to write another story again. Or do I ignore what she can’t do and focus on her achievements? “That was a really great story. I liked how you managed to rescue the mermaid from the cave. I didn’t think she was going to escape!”

Spelling? Running? It’s all the same. I have to focus on what I can do and not on what I can’t. And if I get stuck at week 3 or week 4 for a long time does it really matter? I can go at my own pace. I’ll get there in the end just like Gemma-Rose will with her spelling.

So this morning as we were walking down to the park, I decided to stick with the week 3 program. I fiddled with my mp3 player and soon a steady beat was pounding in my ears and a full-of-energy voice boomed out: “Hi, I’m DJ Beatsmith. Welcome to week 4 of the Podrunner interval series.” Week 4? I wanted week 3! I didn’t have time to change the music as Andy was already striding ahead of me so I shrugged my shoulders and decided if I couldn’t keep up, I wouldn’t worry about it.

So what happened? I did the 3 minute runs easily and took a short walking break halfway through each of the 5 minute segments. Did you hear that? I did the 3 minute runs easily! That makes me smile. 

And tomorrow morning? I’m going out there and I’m going to do it again!

Update: I wrote this post some months ago. I didn’t give up. I can now run 6K non-stop. Thank you Andy for your encouragement.


Warning: When I was listening to week 4 of the Podrunner series, I realised there are a few words in the lyrics which may offend some people. It was only a small segment and I was huffing and puffing too much to listen properly so it didn’t bother me. But I thought I’d mention it as I’ve been recommending this series!


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