When I began my undergraduate studies, a whole new world (no, I don’t think I’m Jasmine from Aladdin) opened up. I wouldn’t say I had a sheltered childhood, but my options were limited. Once I moved from home, I took on many interests and hobbies, which translates to me being pretty good at a lot of things but not great at any one thing.
So when thinking about deliberate practice, I have to go back to junior high and high school, before my world opened up. I am a runner – everyone in my family is – and therefore when I joined the track and field team in junior high, it was assumed that I would set records like my older brother and parents did before me. I owe much of my deliberate practice to my father, who took the time to drive me places so I could practice in more challenging conditions. Our coach held track practice for 2 hours after school Monday through Thursday. But on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, I would do hill training, intervals, and run cross country courses. Some days, I would stay after practice was over to continue running and working on drills. This deliberate practice made running around a flat, circular track much easier. I’m proud to say that I did set school records in the 800 m and 1600 m events, and as far as I know, they have not been broken.
Running was one of the things that defined me as an adolescent, but unfortunately I had a knee injury just before my final track season as a senior in high school. This injury (and subsequent surgery) prohibited me from running for nearly a year. During that difficult year, I began my undergraduate studies and started taking on new hobbies. The end result was I starting running again (and still do today), but I did not continue the deliberate practice. So now I am just an average runner, running to stay fit. However, I also swim, bike (road and mountain), scuba dive, hike, and practice ballet. I love the variety in my life, but because I have so many hobbies, I don’t stand out in any one event.