I was never much into sport as a child. Any kind of physical activity left me cold. Mainly because I would stand on the freezing sports field shivering in my PE kit refusing to have any part in it.
Piglet, I am happy to say, is not like this. Piglet talks a good game. Piglet thinks he is the fastest runner in the world. He thinks he could outrun a pyroclastic flow (and proudly told me so, whilst watching a documentary about Pompeii. He would have totally outrun that beast, and had enough time to go back and rescue everybody else). He thinks he is faster than Concorde, which may be true now that Concorde has retired and spends its days in a museum being poked about by elderly amateur engineers.
I am in awe of Piglet’s irrepressible self-esteem on the subject of speed. However, when the going gets tough, the tough may talk the talk, but walking the walk is another matter, and this does not always translate into reality on the running track.
The running track in question is our local Parkrun, an event which Piglet has embraced with some enthusiasm.
“I’m wearing my Spiderman outfit, because if I am Spiderman, everybody will cheer me!”
This is true, however as Piglet turns up looking like a novelty act bringing up the rear in the London Marathon, everyone else is kitted out in running club T-shirts advertising the various Tough Mudders, Iron Mans and ultra-marathons they have completed. In other words, despite the fact that this Parkrun is strictly for those under the age of fourteen, everyone else is a Serious Runner, having a quick Sunday jog around the park before they go off to spend what remains of the weekend fell running in the Brecon Beacons.
Piglet is not spending the weekend fell running. In fact, I’d say we’re mostly in it for coffee and ice cream in the cafe afterwards. Despite being faster than Concorde, and carrying his lucky talisman (a very small Lightning McQueen, to give him extra speed), his times have been getting steadily longer with every race, until finally, this week, it was a job keeping slightly ahead of the tail walker.
The moment he hits the track, his unshakable self-belief starts to fail him, and the sprint slows to a trot, then a walk, then finally a standing still and howling because someone has overtaken him. Piglet does not cope well with competition. Competition, to Piglet, means shouting “I winned! I runned ninety thousand miles an hour!” for ten seconds, followed by two minutes of shouting “Awww! It’s not fair!” as he realises that someone else just ran past him at ninety-one thousand miles an hour.
“It’s OK!” I shout encouragingly, only too aware of my own shortcomings in the athletics department and secretly glad that I don’t have to run very much to keep up with him, “You’re not in competition with any of these people. Just go at your own pace!”
Piglet is having none of it. People are overtaking him, and he does not like it. Dreams of being Lightning McQueen, or dare I say it Jackson Storm, are not quite coming to fruition as another three year old sprints past without a backward glance.
It takes grit, I tell him, grit and resilience and a growth mindset!
I shout educational buzzwords and trite motivational slogans at him. This has to work, right? There was a really uplifting video on it in assembly that time.
Nothing is working, Piglet has slowed to a stop. Desperately, I pick him up and carry him, wondering if this is technically considered cheating and if we will be thrown out of Parkrun if we get caught by any of the jolly high-fiving people in the hi-vis jackets. Eventually we are at the end of the course, and Piglet goes through the finish funnel to rapturous applause, mostly from me. He looks at his number, then up at me.
“Mummy, I went one hundred and forty two miles an hour!”
It’s brilliant fun, and although I doubt we’ll be entering a Tough Mudder anytime soon-not even one that’s strictly for under fourteens, or even under fours-we’ll keep going. Piglet’s faster than Concorde, you know, and you never know when you’ll need to outrun a pyroclastic flow.