Want to be a Better Athlete? Watch Your Local Special Olympics

Rediscovering my athlete’s heart.

opening photo

Last week—after a string of bad workouts—I found myself looking at my training log and feeling completely sorry for myself. I’d been sick; traveling; sleep deprived. I felt fat. I always feel fat. Four days of missed mile splits in a row and I was spiraling into self-loathing. God, I’m going to blow it at Ironman this year, I thought.

So when I got the assignment to cover the regional Special Olympics’ Track and Field events, I grumbled inwardly: Another Saturday training day lost.

But the four hours I spent documenting Area Nine’s Summer Games turned out to be better than any training ride I could have done. Over and over again on that sun-drenched high school track I witnessed the purest displays of the heart and soul of sport. I could barely snap photos fast enough as I tried to document each moment of camaraderie, each act of sportsmanship, each example of passion.

The more I watched, the more I realized I’ve been doing this whole endurance sports thing wrong. Click through the gallery to read about the six things I learned about sports from watching the Special Olympics.