Photo: Pensiero, Flickr Creative Commons
I really wish I had a better understanding of my own body. I'd never really spent much time thinking about it until recently, to be honest. I'm comfortable with my brain. I know its limits and I'm confident in what I could do with it and I know how to get it to do what I want it to do. If I were to take on an intellectual challenge, I would know what expectations would be reasonable for myself and I would know how to go about achieving those goals. Physical challenges, on the other hand, leave me feeling a little helpless and ignorant.
I've always been a better academic than an athlete. I was never incompetent, but sports didn't come easy for me easy, either, unless my size gave me a significant advantage, which it did in football as a kid. Because of that, I always focused more on school and other mental pursuits. Now that I'm in my early 30s and finally pursuing more athletic interests, I feel a little bit out of my element.
Take tennis. I have coached players who are better at the sport than I've ever been even with my years of lessons who mostly taught themselves how to play. As a senior in high school, I played doubles on a team that made the final four in the state playoffs. It'd taken two years of lessons and two years of being on the team to earn a spot on the starting 7. My partner that year had never played tennis before his senior year and he wasn't exactly holding me back that season. I may have been a little better, but I considered us a pretty well-matched pair that year. That's frustrating to watch natural talent just fly up to match your hard work. Now, I'm a great student. When I did take lessons, I picked up things quickly. I pay attention to small details and have a quick memory, but I honestly can't figure out crap by myself if it involves motor skills. The few things I have learned on my own (top spin on my forehand and backhand, mostly) took way too long for an adult to figure out on his own.
And when it comes to running, I don't even have a clue how fast I could run for any given distance. Could I do a 7-minute mile? Maybe. Would I have an idea of what a 7-minute mile felt like? I have no idea. Why, after a year of running regularly, am I still basically a nine and a half minute per mile runner over any distance longer than a mile?
Of course, I guess none of this really even matters. I'll never make a dime off of my body. I started too late and I suspect I'm not physically gifted enough to even have had a chance if I'd started as a child. I suspect that even if I paid the top running coaches in the country to train me daily, I'd probably not even earn a spot in the top amateur wave of the Peachtree. That's okay. I planned my life to profit off of my brain anyway and I know how to use it for the most part. It'd just be really nice to really know how to use those damn things I stand on the way they were really meant to be used.