The Voice of The Ratchet has got to GO.

As Casey and I were stretching out after our run last weekend, we were discussing how unfortunate it is that, still, after many years in triathlon and many (many) reminders on the importance of stretching neither of us can touch our knees, I mean (or do I) toes.

In our discussion on the merits of stretching somehow we got onto the Sit & Reach….in case you’ve forgotten (or blocked it out):


We took a little trip down memory lane discussing Elementary School Fitness Tests  … eeeeiiikkkkk….by the end of the conversation I was wondering how any of us escaped with any self esteem in tact??



(ps There are some bad words at the end of this blog. You’ve been warned; abort if needed)

I’m not sure which one of these Fitness Tests to credit as my favorite.  They were all so pleasant.

Fat pinch plier test (I think the politically correct term for that was the ‘skin fold’ test but let’s just call it what it is).  I can still feel my self esteem rising just thinking about Nurse Ratchet applying the big squeeze.

The mile run (‘run’).  It’s hard to imagine why it took me 20 years after elementary school to want run again.

High jump or the bar jump or whatever it was. Eh, hem ooookay kids, this is our annual jump really high day.  To show our support, we’re going to put a metal pole out that’s right about the height of yer head.  We’ll all be staring at you. Good luck.

Really, though, I think some of my best moments had to be on the pull up & the rope climb.  THAT wasn’t embarrassing at all. (I still can’t do an unassisted pull up despite swimming through college).

I must have had a hunch this was a racket b/c I usually got caught hiding on testing days.  In 5th grade, after trying to avoid the jump high test, I was given a special chance to show the whole class it’s not a good idea to skip “skills lessons”.  Boy, did I prove to them it’s not a good idea to make Liz run really fast toward a mental pole (to this day, my vertical is still 3 inches on a good day.  I was never going to make it over that bar.)

As Casey and I discussed these ‘fitness tests’ I got remnants of the same pit in my stomach I used to get back in Elementary school.   eeeiikkkk how I dreaded test days….

Given that Casey (who is a natural and bada** athlete) also had the same reaction, it made me think there must be a fair number people who weren’t inspired to athletic greatness by the Sit & Reach.  And it, in fact, made me suspect that some might greatly underestimate what they can do today based on experiences like running into a metal pole in front of their class mates or the pinch of Mrs. Ratchet’s fat pliers.

It might be part of why athletes who don’t view themselves as “fast enough” or as “looking like an athlete” suggest to me that they “aren’t really athletes”.  I’m willing to bet the voice of The Ratchet still lurks in the subconscious of a lot of athletes – as a coach, I call these brain trolls and they erode self esteem and confidence – and for some even the willingness to try (no pun intended) b/c they don’t feel like they have a place in sports.

For those that struggle to define yourselves as ‘athletes’ despite all the training you do, let’s just go ahead and take a minute to call that what it is:


Nurse Ratchet and her pliers have no place here. There’s no ‘legitimate athlete’ patrol.   Carry on with yer goals and yer struggles and yer victories and with being yer badarse selves.  Anyone who says otherwise is full of bull.











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