I don’t like to do sit-ups, clean the litter box, run suicides or eat lima beans. And, in high school, I used to hate running "the square."
The Pottstown Sr. High School square - home to baseball fields, hockey fields, and lacrosse fields - was a large side-walked area that went around a grassy meadow-like space between the high school and the junior high. Our coaches usually started practice by requiring us to run one and three quarter times around the square. That was equivalent to a mile.
I actually hated running the square. Probably because I usually sprinted that mile.
The competitive nature inside me insisted that I never come in anything but first when running the square, even though it was only a warm-up – one exercise during part of one practice. When I got to college, I transferred this compulsion, during lacrosse and field hockey practice, to running suicides – battling each time not to come in second to my good friend, Debbie.
Always ringing in the back of my head during the square, or other drills, was my Dad’s voice, "Practice like you play the game." In other words, practice hard. Hence, the sprint.
But by the time I got to college, it wasn’t about coming in first as much as it was making sure I was giving it my best effort.
I’ve even transferred a little of that spirit to my work at the newspaper, sometimes being a bit compulsive about getting a better photo, writing a better article, and not getting scooped by other papers in the area.
Lately I’ve been doing some self-evaluation, introspection and exercise, and I’m feeling better, both physically and mentally.
Self-evaluation, when done honestly, isn’t very fun either. In fact, I’d rank it right up there with sprinting the square.
Doing things we hate to do, with the effort they require, actually pays dividends. Just like practice.
Besides, who wants to live in a house that smells like a stinky litter box?
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