In Defence of the Recreational Athlete

I was thinking about the people like you reading my blog and the NYC marathon recently and I figured most of my readers are just like me. AKA, not winning, probably no Charlie Sheens here. Almost half of the runners of any race are slower than average by definition yet we’re all still out there. We’re out there on race day, pounding the pavement training in the hot, cold and rain, even though we already know we’re not going to win. Nobody is putting your name in the paper or writing down your new record, yet you’re still out there. So this post is for you! We’re here to celebrate all those recreational athletes today. So I picked pictures of local races that I participated in to celebrate that for this post.

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Frostbite 5 Miler 2017 it was -20 with the windchill

So why do we do it? Well because we love it right? That’s totally true no matter what your sport is, running, lifting, yoga or triathlons just competing is an accomplishment. In fact doing it knowing your not going to win any ‘real’ glory is in some way more of one. As amazing as it would feel to get there first and break that ribbon it’s never going to happen to most of us, we’ll never stand on a podium or walk away with a prize, well maybe a door prize. A good workout can make you feel so alive but there are more than a few days in training, recovery runs anyone, that are truly terrible. Some might say if you have no chance of winning, what’s the point? Well any recreational athlete would tell you if your asking that, you’re missing the point entierly.

Others might write us off as completely nuts or even selfish but we all know nothing could be further than the truth. There are a lot of things a recreational athlete gets that a person who works out regularly does not. It’s one thing to say I’ll get to the gym 5 days a week it’s another to go from running 5k’s to your first marathon. It’s one thing to take crossfit classes its another to try to make it to the state finals even if you know you won’t be at the games. A lot of people will tell you why you should do it, how you can accomplish it or how to try but I want to celebrate those that do it, all of you non-winners that keep on going after you’ve done it once.

So this isn’t that, it’s not how to start or train it’s a celebration that you do! First or last it doesn’t matter, you’ll get your props here. On days your motivation might be lacking re-read it and remember all of these points are always true and YOU ROCK!

In recognition of your dedication: You keep it up day after day, month after month and year after year. I see you at the same races year after year hoping to smash last year’s record. You get up at the crack of dawn every day or your out there every evening after dark putting in those miles and schlepping back and forth to the gym. Most people aren’t as dedicated as you are to working out and that dedication probably carries over into other parts of your life too. You set impossible seeming long term goals and then you get them done! Take heart even though we don’t say it we notice your dedication and we appreciate that about you.

In recognition of you do-gooding: Your out there doing the charity races and fundraising for causes near and dear to your heart. Lots of times its just your race fee but we get it that your out there supporting good causes and you deserve a medal just for that. I know that when you put the call out for donations every once that most people don’t answer it. But I also know that a lot of the other races you do because they are convenient and fun are also for charity. So I get that it’s different this time, that it really is personal to you so I’ll donate this time, I got your back. I also appreciate that when I put the call every once and a while and it’s people like you who stepped up to help me raise over $3000 for brain tumour research in my brother’s memory this year and I really and truly appreciate that too. You pop out of the woodwork and donate even when your busy doing your own stuff and that makes you amazing!

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In recognition of your health: You got plans this weekend? Wanna help me move? I follow you on social media and I see you changing into workout clothes at lunch or before you head out for the end of the day and I think you would be a great help. You my friend are an outlier, the good kind. Your one of the 4% of north american adults who actually meet active living guidelines, getting out there for 150 minutes a week. You’re fit, your healthy and your adding years to your life. The risks that you will develop diabetes, heart disease and even cancer are much much lower than your counter parts that don’t. You will probably live longer than average because of that, not only will you live longer you’ll spend less time in a profoundly diseased state at the end of your life, about 6 years less. That means you’ll end up with a better quality of life and as a side benefit you’ll cost the healthcare system way less! We can all tell that you have tonnes of energy and reap the mental health outcomes of of regular exercise too by your sunny attitude and you never seem to quit. All that makes you a pleasure to be around whether that’s at work, home or out with friends. In fact more than a few people are inspired by you and we’re a little jealous of how great you look!

In recognition of your organizational skills: It’s not easy to work full time, raise a family and do all of the other things life requires and sometimes we all barely mange it. We’re all tiered, cranky and barely holding it together sometimes and you do all that and run marathons and do triathlons, that’s AMAZING! Plus you’re at all the games and recitals, you take your turn in car pool and have something for the bake sale. That kind of training takes amazing dedication and you’re sneaking it in before we all wake up or when were sitting on the couch for the night. That doesn’t just happen by accident it takes planning, google calendars, iPhone reminders and great big white boards and colour coding in some cases I’m sure. While that might still be a bit crazy it’s also a mad skill. I know it sometimes goes something like this… “So the lunches for tomorrow are in the fridge and their having waffles for breakfast, I’ll get them up, you dress them while I’m running I’ll be back after breakfast to take them to school and shower at the gym on the way to work. For supper there is a lasagna in the fridge, put that on when you get home and by the time you’re back from your run I’ll have them fed, you can shower while I’m at practice then homework and bed time, okay?” You do that sort of planning day in day out for months at a time. That’s carries over into how much you get done at work and how you can handle so many projects at the same time. You get it all done, and it’s often more than anyone else is doing and we appreciate that about you!

In recognition that it’s hard sometimes: Even if we’re never run a mile, biked since we were 10, lifted a weight or swam a single lap we know it’s gotta be hard sometimes. We might know that we ourselves can’t run a single mile but you run 26 in a row for fun! It sounds nutty to us that in order to run 21 km on race day you have to run 450 BEFORE! People might not get that but even still they know it’s gotta be hard sometimes. It rains, it’s cold there are freaking hills out there, and you get it done. It’s hard to work full time and peak out at over 100 km a week in training. You must be tiered and sore but since you ‘choose’ to do it you never seem to complain. The Monday after a marathon or a triathlon you must just want to lay in bed but you’re at work and mostly smiling. It’s hard to schedule that and there must be days it would be so much easier just not to go, but you do and that builds your character and gives you perspective. We appreciate that it’s hard sometimes but you persevere and do it anyway!

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In recognition of all that you do! Because of all of that you deserve one hell of a shout out! What people say to you most often is your crazy but we mean CRAZY AWSOME! No matter what sport it is you’re dedicated to remember you’re inspiring others to take care of themselves and that makes the world a better place!

What do you appreciate in other athletes in your community? What keeps you going even if a lot of people will be at the finish line before you?

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