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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

Tag, You're "It"

Remember playing tag?

Nobody wanted to be "it". In this case, we preferred the role of the prey, rather than the predator.


But, what if the roles were switched, and everyone else chased the one person who was "it"? Being the predator would be more fun.

That's because tag brings out our tribal need to fit in, or belong. The aversion to being "it" has nothing to do with a preference to chase or be chased.

It's that being "it" is lonely.

It's exposing. It puts the person who's "it" on one side, and everyone else on the other.

Just as nobody wants to be "it" in tag, I think there's also an aversion to being "it" on the track.

There's a fear of going for it, and having everyone chase you.

There's also a fear of being dropped, and having to chase everyone.

Being "it" is not comfortable in track, whether out ahead or way behind. But being "it" is where you learn.

Pippa Grange, a sport psychologist who previously worked with the England national soccer team, had a good way of putting the aversion to being "it."

"Part of what it takes to be courageous is overcoming the constant battle between the desire for what we want and the fear of failure," She said, "Most of us don't expose ourselves because we are fearful."

Some of us never make that move to the lead because we fear being caught.

Others never get on the line because they fear not catching anyone.

But just like the game of tag, taking your turn being "it" is part of becoming a better distance runner. You learn your limits (on both sides) when you're the outlier.

So get on that line. Make that move.

You're "it".

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