My darling daughter.

When I was 9 years old, I was a lot like you.

I loved to read, and could so happily have spent most of my life in bed with a good book. Especially when it was raining, that was the BEST.

I wasn’t really good at sports. By the time I was 9 I already knew that I was going to be the last one picked for teams in sport, and that no one expected me to do very well in P.E. or the cross country. People were very nice about it, in that way that people are annoyingly nice to the one who comes last all the time. I pretended I didn’t care. It was kind of okay.

The thing is, when people decide that you are one way or another and they are grown ups, it is easy to believe them. And they stop trying to tell you that you CAN do things, because they think that you can’t. So YOU start to think that you can’t, and then you don’t really try any more either.

What I want to tell you though, is that there are going to be lots of things that maybe you aren’t the best at. And some grown ups and some kids might make you feel like you shouldn’t bother with those things. You should go and do some of the things that you are fantastic at.

I want to tell you that I’m not the best at so many things and I believed that I could never be good at sporty things so I didn’t even try. And I don’t want that to happen to you. Those people DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.

If you LIKE doing something and it makes you feel good, you should do it.

That’s it.

And if you want to do something that seems hard, tell me about it and I will help you try. There are loads of things that seem hard but that you can get better at if you keep trying, let’s try some of those together yeah?

When I was at school I got picked on a lot. There used to be a show on TV then called Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. We would play a game about that show and I always had to be Fat Albert. The other girls would run away from me because they knew I couldn’t catch them. Eventually I stopped trying.

I don’t want you to ever stop trying things that you want to do. I know sometimes it is annoying to you that I go running a lot and I do things that are different than what I used to. But I finally figured out that even though I might never be very fast and I am not a person who is naturally athletic, it makes me feel really good inside and out. I know you’ve noticed that I look different, and I feel really different on the inside too. It is a really nice feeling to get better at something without having to ever be the best.

I know I’m kind of different to other Mums sometimes. I know you are proud of me and you sometimes get embarrassed because I wear running stuff all the time. That’s okay. Nanna used to embarrass me heaps too. You should have seen the boots she used to wear!

But I know that you are my girl, and I know that you are amazing. Even if you won’t be the best at some things, I know that you can try them and I know that you might love them.

And if you love them, then I will help you do them more often, because I love you.




If you had to play Fat Albert, or if you were the kid who hung out in the library at lunchtime, or if you were the one who won all the cross country races but then lost your running mojo when school ended, or if you are just someone who wants to try something a little bit hard because it doesn’t matter if you are the best or not any more, you might like our Learn to Run course. Registrations for our August program are open now.

Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. *sniffle sob* I love this. I love this a lot. Such a wonderful thing to do for your daughter x *lip wobble*

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thanks Dee. I love that she really took from it what I intended, and she was really excited that I was going to share it here :)

  2. Were we the same person growing up? This is beautifully told and I'm glad your daughter heard your words. You're so lucky to have each other in life. x

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thankyou Cat, I know how blessed I am to have her and I just want her to have so much strength you know? She is an amazing kid.

  3. I'm sitting in The Coffee Club reading this with a tear in my eye. I was that kid you described. The fat one. The one no one wanted on their team. The one they ran away from so they could laugh when she tried to keep up. And they laughed when I couldn't breathe and my belly wobbled when I ran. I was the girl who couldn't wait to finish school to get away from it. I was so desperate to get away from it I took myself and my collection of things and moved them 600kms away from it all. I left my family behind to escape it. I started in the city by myself. Im still trying to learn, at 21, that I'm not still that girl. To trust that not everyone I meet is turning their backs and sniggering because they think I like them. Kids are cruel. But with an awesome mum like you your daughter is going to be amazing. Hopefully she'll never be scared to try anything and she'll find this super awesome thing she's great at and kick ass at life.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Oh Lucy lots of love to you. It can be SO HARD to let go of that stuff can't it? And I know I just never want her to feel like I did. Without a word of a lie, running has turned my life around and given me a confidence and positivity that I never knew I was capable of. I wish I could give that to everyone who had the experiences that we did. xx

  4. Wow you've just described my school days to a T. No one wanted me in the sports teams I was always picked last so even though I enjoyed it I wasn't given the opportunities to do it because I wasn't the best at it so I stuck to choir and drama instead. I'm now training for my first half marathon after having my 2nd child 6 months ago. I'm not going to win (clearly) I'm going to be in the slower half of the finishers but so bloody what, I'm going to finish. I love this letter to your daughter and I am so pleased that she gets what you mean. I'm going to be teaching my kids the very same thing. :-)

    • Zoey Dowling

      Oh I loved drama and choir too Rhian! My 5yo has autism, and every time I come home from a race day he will not be convinced that my medal isn't for coming first. I'm a second half of the pack runner too and happy to be, because him considering me a winner is worth much more to me than a lot of other things :)