Last weekend my coach, Andrew was discussing an ultra-marathon runner who came into chat with us about her training programme for a running seminar. After she left, Andrew said “when you look at her, you understand why she’s a runner – she’s built to be a runner, she was born to do it.”
And it was obvious. She was tiny, with those long slim muscles so many marathon runners have, barely an ounce of body fat. She uses crossfit, just for 15 minutes a day as her ‘ancilliary’ training – which in her case both improves performance and can prevent injury.
But it was what Andrew said next that has stuck with me: “when planning your training, you need to know what ‘your race’ is. This could me you’re a half-marathon runner who has been doing 5ks, or you’re a sprinter who should be running marathons’ – a large question to put before anyone and I think doesn’t apply only to sports.
So, I pondered, as I walked home. What is my race? What type of athlete am I? It seemed to me to a big unanswered question for someone who spends £200 on fitness every month – not including the various massages, physiotherapy and expensive eating habits doing sport has developed.
I don’t believe I am a runner – even though learning to run 20 minutes without stopping is the first fitness mountain I ever climbed. I’m not a fast runner, or a natural runner and going forward I know that I’ll try to only use the value of running to push me forward in other pursuits.
So what am I? Am I a crossfitter who uses yoga as ancilliary training? Or am I a yogini who uses crossfit? I’ve shown aptitude at other sports that I haven’t really explored – I can punch very hard and do enjoy boxing… but I think for now, I’ve put all my eggs in the two baskets above – but there is a common thread: I like being strong and I like being bendy.
As for which sport reigns supreme in mind, I think I need a bit more time. I’m ‘better’ at yoga – but I’ve been practicing on and off for 12 years now. Crossfit is a new ambition though it has definitely enhanced my ability to breakthrough certain strength barriers I hit in yoga class.
But then I thought about how I define fitness and satisfaction with my body and my self. Crossfit would say fitness is your bodies ability to do what you ask it to do in unanticipated situations – so if you can do that reasonably well, then you’re in a good place. I can say I previously defined fitness as a pair of size 12 jeans – regardless of my abilities.
In the last 10 days I have asked my body to jump on boxes, walk 7 miles, do about 8 hours of yoga, 4 hours of crossfit, plus walking 2 miles to work twice a day. Its been fine. If I asked it to run 10k it might struggle, but I could do 5k without a hitch. I can’t really climb up a rope or anything extreme, but I can lift and move reasonably heavy things – getting heavier by the day. It has barely complained. Isn’t that fitness?
So I don’t really know what my sport is. I have some guesses. But it’s a pretty good thing to really nail down – as in: I trained in a varied way – but what do I really want to be good at?
I’ll let you know when I’ve finalised my answer.