Gym class: bad memories

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During Summer Vacation my thirteen year old daughter started running, using a Couch to 5K running plan. She's very enthusiastic, and even though school has started again, she still insists on three runs a week!

So when her gym teacher told her class they would be running, one would expect my daughter to do well. But alas, she didn't like it at all. She couldn't keep up with the high pace, and like me 24 years ago, came in almost last while panting and gasping for air. If she didn't know running could be fun because of her own personal experience, she might have ended up thinking running is awful.

Her experience got me thinking. Why do so many of us have bad memories of gym class? It really is a shame! When I left high school, I did so in the firm belief that sports were definitely nót my thing! And it took about ten years and a conversation with a friend telling me that running is great for the soul, to get me to try it again.

How did you feel about gym classes in high school? Did they turn you into a runner, or just the opposite?

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7 comments

  1. I didn't have to run in gym class. We generally had to learn team sports which was fine by me (although my brief experience with artistic gymnastics was NOT one of my high school highlights). We only had to run once a year at the cross country event. I finished my first one throwing up just as I crossed the line. In front of the entire school. I was mortified and from then on only walked it or pretended to be sick on cross country day. I'm sure my PE teachers would be surprised to know how much I run now.

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  2. I didn't have to run much in high school gym class...we did all sorts of different things like golf, weight training, flag football. Then again I was a jock in high school so I didn't mind gym class...just the changing part!

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  3. My experience of running at school was setting off for a cross-country run, going full pelt for about 1 minute, then walking the rest of the way. This made me think I couldn't run, and I held on to that idea for the next 15 years or so, when I realised it was something I could actually learn to do. Good luck to your daughter, it sounds as though she's enjoying running - I'm hoping my kids have a better experience of sport!

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  4. I have vivid memories of the weekly junior high "fun run" in gym class. I still remember Danny burning us all with what seemed like a 5-6 min pace (probably not but he was way faster than the rest of us). The runs didn't turn me away but didn't convert me either.

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  5. Sorry she had that experience. And I think you're right--many of us do have those bad memories. I know I do. Maybe its' b/c the gym teachers have no idea what the heck to do with running, so kids get a wrong experience? Curious.

    On your question about how I get to a glycogen depleted state--that's easy. No eating before or during the run. Scary thought, but actually quite doable!

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  6. This post really struck home as I had the same experience as you - I run and swim regularly and happily (and have done for years) but was not encouraged the slightest bit in high school gym class. I was terrible at games with balls and not very competitive, and made to feel bad about it. It would have been nice to be shown how I could develop athletically. Remedial gym class, maybe? When I did join the track team and ran a few events, no one paid any attention to me, I suppose because I didn't place and the coach wanted to focus on the winners. Boo.

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  7. Wow. Brought back some memories! I enjoyed most of gym class, but the running was definitely the low point. :( I don't really think it was my teacher's fault. Probably just 30+ competitive kids who went out sprinting and then felt like failures. :/ I remember having a lot of the football and basketball team in my class and 5 girls/25 boys. yeah, some inadequacy there! Thanks for sharing and so glad your daughter knows running can be better than that!

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