The Charger Challenge is a track meet for elementary students hosted by Chattanooga Christian School each spring. Our kids watched the meet 2 years ago and were looking forward to participating in the races this spring. For over a year they have been training – running 3 times a week on our street in the mornings. As the event approached, they went to CCS’s track to do a time trial and get experience being on the track.

I don’t know many children who are motivated enough to actually train at a sport, so we (and they) thought they would perform pretty well at this meet.

They didn’t perform well…or so it seemed at first.

S placed last in half of her events. IW was in the middle of the pack. There were definitely some serious let-down moments. They had trained, they ran their best, yet they seemed really slow. Is running just not a good fit for them?

After the meet was over, and all the results were in, things didn’t look so bleak. After looking over the race times, we realized that both kids ran personal records! And not by a little bit. They broke their time trial times by 30+ seconds… for a 600 meter run! Also, there were some really fast kids there, as many track records were broken that day – by the first, second, and sometimes third place runners.

We are still amazed at the impact running with other kids had on them — how much harder they were able to push, how much faster they were able to run.

I know that “iron sharpens iron” and there is benefit from being inspired by others. The realization of what a nine or seven year old is capable of can be a powerful source of motivation and energy. On the other hand, I want my children to be internally motivated, to find their own unique desires, their own source of strength, etc. I don’t know what the right balance of the two is, but I think the internal drive will certainly serve them better over the course of their lives. At the same time, I want them to have the benefits that can come of friendly competition – but not at the expense of weakening their internal drive.