Written By: Phil Lockwood (Educator, Author, and Parent)
The moments leading up to a running race can be stressful for anyone. Do you have your race number? Are your shoes tied? Are you ready to run? What if you don’t do well?
These sorts of questions are normal and as adults, we have learned to maneuver around them and “push on”. Kids have not always learned the strategies and methods to overcome these fears. This was VERY apparent at my son’s first-ever HKRS race! My son Blake is a very fast kid, loves to play sports, and loves to compete… as long as nobody is watching. So as you can imagine, running a race with a ton of spectators was a tad overwhelming for this Kindergartener.
Blake was so excited to run, but the moment he approached the starting line he froze. When the race coordinator said, “GO!” Blake just looked at me and cried. My heart sank as he walked over to me and refused to run. He was disappointed and as his dad, so was I. I knew that he could win, and I really wanted him to show everyone else too.
The car ride home was quiet, making it even worse that his little sister (3 years old) ran and won her age group earlier. When we got home we talked about some calming strategies. I wanted him to understand that all of his emotions were totally normal, but there are ways to push through them.
When Week 2 of HKRS arrived Blake was ready to run! Unfortunately, his emotions got the best of him again, and he left at the starting line yet again with tears running down his face. Again, we drove home disappointed. But I did not let him quit. We talked about it that night and again worked through the emotions he was feeling. We went over strategies such as counting to ten, singing a song in his head, etc.
Week 3 of HKRS was a big one! Blake did it! It wasn’t flawless as he was still very hesitant and got off to a slow start, but after running his lap and finishing the race he gained that little confidence boost that was MUCH needed. The next two weeks were great! Blake was still admittedly nervous but went out and ran each week, even winning his heat twice!
Over the next few seasons of HKRS, I watched kids struggle like Blake. Blake still struggled with his anxiety and his emotions over the next few seasons, but he overcame it the best that he could. Watching Blake and other runners alike, freeze at the moment gave me the idea to write Do Lions Cry? as a help many children and parents to persevere through these struggles.
Over the last year, I have had the opportunity to share my book with hundreds of children in local elementary schools. The feedback from parents, teachers, and parents has been amazing. I am excited to share my story with the HKRS community in hopes that it helps every runner meet their potential!
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