Monday, December 20, 2010

When The Pieces Come Together. Learning To Read and Achieving New Levels as a Runner.

Obviously, neither one of these photos are of me or my children but they seem to go along with what the gist of this blog is all about.  

We all started somewhere with our running.  Some of us came from a family of runners and we were running races as children.  Others discovered running much later in life. There are those that ran competitively in high school and college and those that just run because they like how it makes them feel. And of course, there are those out there that just don't want anything to do with running.  But if you are one of those people that makes running part of your life, I think you'd all agree that running can be joyful, challenging, and rewarding!  Just running in itself (without racing or setting PRs) can be fulfilling and help us have balance in our lives.  However, I also think you'd agree that when we set new Personal Records and reach new levels with our running, it can be truly magical.  The speed workouts, long runs, hill repeats, reading about running, talking about running, fine tuning your stride...when all these pieces come together in one awesome race it is as if a whole new world is opened to us and we just want to keep coming back for more!

Just as we all start somewhere with our running, we also started somewhere as readers and writers.  As many of you know, literacy development and instruction is one of my greatest passions.  It always brought such joy to me as a teacher to inspire and motivate my students to read and write and to see them start to identify themselves as readers and writers.  It is a pretty amazing thing to see a child start putting the pieces together and finally take off with their reading and writing life.  All the letter sounds, books they've heard, stories they've told, small sentences and words....when all these pieces come together and a child finally learns to read (just like with running), it is as if a whole new world is opened to them and hopefully they keep coming back for more!  

Last night, my 5 year old daughter reached this Ah-Ha moment where she realized that she can read!  I have never pushed the issue and so far have been one of those moms that reads lots of books to them, with them, and I let them see me be a voracious reader and writer. I have trusted that she is progressing just fine and I've been happy to see her find joy in text.  But last night, I took out my daughter's kindergarten word list to work on a few of her sight words since we had not done that in a long time.  Usually she kind of kicks and screams about the whole thing so I try to trust that she will learn most of it in school and I don't do much.  Last night something just clicked with her and she was reading and loving it.  I started writing sentences for her and she was reading them too.  Once she realized she could really read and that the pieces were coming together, it was as if this huge light came on inside her little soul and her eyes were wide with excitement and joy!  Now she can't get enough! She was jumping up and down saying "I'm a reader!  I'm a reader!" This reminded me of what it kind of feels like for us runners when we set a Personal Record or have a really great speed workout...when we see all our hard work and all the pieces of our training plans come together for one awesome record!  We know that there is a whole new level out there for us to work towards and it is exciting!

This morning, my daughter woke up so eager to start reading and practicing more and more.  We read several B.O.B books together...well, she read them to me.  She read every word and she was even okay with moving past the tricky words and coming back later.  Then while I cooked breakfast, she wrote sentences to tell her own little story.  I convinced her to stop being such a perfectionist and guess and go with words that were too tricky.  I told here that that is what real writers do...we get a rough draft down and then go back after our thoughts are out.  It was so cool to see her not get frustrated with herself but to just let her ideas flow. I think this is important for runners too.  We need to realize that we need to get a few races under our belt before we can expect to really know what to work on with our running.  We learn from every set back and new accomplishment.  And we eventually learn that we can mess up or have a bad race and still come back strong!

Seeing my daughter so joyful over realizing she can read reminded me just why I am so in love with teaching.  What a joy it is to see those little lights come on and to see a child experience so much joy and pride.  What joy it brings to see that a child  believes that they are a Reader and Writer just like their favorite authors and role models.  I'm sure being a running coach brings with it some of the same joys!  To see your runners believe in themselves and finally put the hard work and pieces together to set personal records, smash barriers, and reach new levels as a runner.  Learning to read and achieving new levels with our running, racing, and personal goals opens new doors in our life and allows us to see just how limitless this life can be!  

 Oh, and this one is just for fun.  I think she must be telling Santa that she can read!  

What is a time in your life where you finally saw the pieces come together for something awesome?  A race?  A personal best?  Seeing your children learn something new?



  1. I like your analogy.

    I am homeschooling my son - almost 6. I had feared that we were behin. But upon comparison with the report card criteria my friend shared with me for her daughter, I discovered that despite my total lack of planning and the limited time we spend doing it, he is at pace or above. What a relief!

    Anyway...I look forward to when he is interested in really sounding out the words and having an a-ha moment like your daughter =D

  2. I love this! The ah-ha moment is my absolute favorite as a teacher. Seeing my kiddos struggle breaks my heart but the minute the light bulb comes on, I want to celebrate with them. That's so exciting for you and your daughter!

  3. Great analogy! I totally agree. The other day I just did my first 4 miles without stopping, and it was like my body just learned how to do it and it clicked. Feels great to learn new things at every age!!!

  4. love this comparison! It is so fun to watch Connor become a reader and enjoy it!!

  5. I love this post!
    I think with kids the ah-ha are weekly...!

  6. awwww congrats to your baby girl! awesome milestone =)

  7. Hi there!
    love that you're a teacher. i'm a former teacher slash elementary school counselor;-)

    and with almost 5 yr olds myself, i know my lil one is gonna catch the reading bug soon.

    and where's a time when i say the pieces of training put together? my 2nd 5k race this season. it was the first time I really saw all my cadence/speedwork put into play;-)It's still my PR.

    Happy week!

  8. Part of what makes my job as a bookseller wonderful is putting a book in a reluctant reader's hands, and they come back later to say how much they loved the book and are eager for more. I truly believe there is a book out there for everyone, and it's just a matter of finding the right one. I cannot imagine going a day without reading. It would crush me.

  9. I loved your analogy...and the picture with Santa...adorable!

  10. What a wonderful moment for you. Those special moments with our kids are so precious. I still remember the day when my youngest said to me "I know what that word says, Mummy" He's just turned 17 and graduated high school but that moment is etched in my memory.

  11. Lovely post and lovely message. I am SO lucky that I have moments like that with my children AND with my running - and in other parts of my life where suddenly something will come together. Keep enjoying these moments!

  12. Great post! My son is 9 and he gets these moments more and more often. He loves sharing them with me and that is wonderful. With running I still get them even though I've been running for 29 years. This year during my one 50k mountain race I experienced a new kind of satisfaction and I had my own moment of enjoying a higher level.

  13. What a great post. Loved your analogy. I love to watch my kids as they discover new things they can do. It's so fun! I think I have various aha moments here and there both as a mom and a runner.

  14. Wow- you put so much thought into your posts. Such a joy to read! Great insight!

    Thankyou for always making me THINK and REFLECT!

    Something awesome! Watching my daughter Reese run her first solo 5K.. I had run one with her 2 weeks earlier and paced her almost 3 minutes slower. She was so passionate about wanting to try this one herself. She shocked me with her pace and I've never seen a bigger smile. I could just taste the sense of accomplishment she was feeling! She was just on top of the world and seeing that was one of the best feelings I've EVER experienced!

    Hope you have a great Christmas week!!

  15. great post! my daughter is 5 too and in kindergarten this year. this summer my mom gave her some BOB books. my mom is a kindergarten teacher and was so excited to give the books to abby. abby was ANGRY about them - she stomped her feet and yelled "MOMMY I AM NOT GOING TO READ UNTIL I AM 11 YEARS OLD!!!" so i said "ok honey" and put them away. she has loved every minute of school and i didn't want to force reading on her...trusting that eventually she would read when she was ready. well she LOVES kindergarten and halfway through the school year she is reading! she is inspiring her 4 year old brother to read! it is simply and completely amazing. she can't get enough of those BOB books and writes her own stories, etc. sure a lot of the spelling is off (sooo cute, though!) but her love and passion is alive and not much makes me happier than to see that joy and confidence light up my child's face from the inside out. great post today!!!

  16. This is why I love being a K teacher and feel that it is such a privilege. You are an incredible mom and I enjoyed linking these thoughts to running and in my case, today, swimming. Baby steps. But the fire is there and it's exciting!!
    Any surprises in the mail, yet???
    Merry Christmas!

  17. I love this post, Amanda! My 7 year old has had the ability to read since he was around 5, but no interest. And then suddenly this fall, he took off reading aloud to us. He loves to be read to, but was only interested in picture books or those Pokemon guide type books, none of the wonderful, engaging chapter books I loved to read to his brothers...until just a week or so ago, and now he can't get enough.

    We just finished a school-wide benchmarking on reading skills. Today at school, i got an email from the woman who coordinates that: "Kate-pat yourself on the back. Your [special ed] students improved at a greater rate than the target rate." talk about things coming together...objective evidence that my kids are very near the target (on that measure) and are making great gains!! It was a great early Christmas present. :)

  18. That is such a great post! Here's my kindergarten reading story. . .

    It was my turn to read to the teacher. I got every single word like an old pro. But did I get to grab a little something from her surprise goody bag? No. :( And why? Because I didn't use my finger to follow along with the words. I could read them just find without my finger. But because I didn't use it I didn't get a prize.

    Oh no, I'm not bitter. I don't tell that story any chance I can get. Nope, not me! ;)