Thursday, January 19, 2012

Are you an athlete?

athlete: : a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina


This has been on my mind all week. This past weekend while talking triathlon with friends over coffee, I made the comment that I have a hard time considering myself an athlete, and an even harder time telling someone “I am an athlete/triathlete”. It’s much easier to say “I do triathlons” . One of the girls said to me you’ve done all of these things, ½ marathons, sprints, oly’s and even a 70.3. You can average 17mph on the bike and you don’t consider yourself an athlete? What more do you want? She was baffled. I tried to explain that while I knew when talking to someone who completes endurance races, most of them would never look down on me if I called myself an athlete. They know what it takes to cross the line, whatever the finish time. But tell someone that has really no idea what the difference between a marathon and triathlon is, and they look at you and  see a middle aged woman who is carrying 30+ pounds more then she should,  “athlete” is not a word they would use to describe me...ever. Obviously that is the way I too must look at myself.

WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT? She asked and I keep asking myself.

I can’t help but wonder if that is what drives me to go farther, to think about the next distance and can I do it? Will I then feel like an athlete? Who knows? Does it matter if I feel like an athlete? Maybe. Maybe not. Just what does an athlete feel like?

So how about you, are you an athlete?

20 comments:

Matthew Smith said...

Screw the Athlete part...it is just an amazing accomplishment to do the things you do! The athleticism is in the training that you've done to cross the finish line. It's not about how fast you got there. You ROCK! That's all that matters!

JohnP said...

ohhh I know the feeling.

Just thinking out loud here...
I see it as I just never feel 'good enough'. Like you indicated, there is always another level. I won't be satisfied until I reach the next level. Faster or longer or tougher. Then I get there and I still dont feel satisfied. So until I'm satisfied I've done the very best/longest/fastest I ever am capable of, then I'm worthy of 'athlete'.

Athlete to me is not a relative term, it's something *I* defined for myself. When I get there, I am an athlete.

I used to think I was an athlete, then I took up triathlon. I got absolutely murdered on the run by 60yr old obese woman. This slim cocky young buck Came dead last on the run. So am I an athlete. Relative to some - yes. Relative to the big ole' helping of humble pie served up to me on at that race - NO. At least in my mind I wasn't worthy of the term athlete.

Being an athlete is like being in love. Nobody needs to tell you you're in love, you just know it, through and through.

Since then I've earned my title. And am humbly grateful what I learned in the process.

Know thyself. You just have to find a way to believe.

Diana said...

Julie,
I'm carrying a "few" more lbs around than I'd rather be as well, but I do consider myself an athlete.
I have great strength and stamina. I may not be fast, but that's a mute point. I don't give up....giving up would be giving up on myself and that's something I won't do.
You're an athlete without a doubt!

Heather @ Just a Colorado Gal said...

I do a post awhile back on how I never call myself a runner or a triathlete either! I say that I'm athletic but I hesitate to use those terms because I know there are so many people who are bigger, faster, stronger, etc.

But after reading someone else (YOU!) write similar sentiments, I now see that I was wrong. Girlfriend, you are an athlete, and a beastly one at that!!!!

sugarmagnolia70 said...

I could have written this post. In fact, I DID last year. (http://sugarmagnolia70.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-feel-like-running-fraud.html)

I always say "I do triathlons" instead of "I'm a triathlete" and although I am finally starting to call myself a runner, I feel weird saying it. For me it's an issue of speed. But hello? I am Half Fanatic and have done many tris. What more do I need?

Bluegrass Tri Chick said...

Wow. That is funny to see you say 'I do triathlons'. That is what I always say. I guess I am not alone!

Duckie said...

"Being an athlete is like being in love. Nobody needs to tell you you're in love, you just know it, through and through."

This line hits the nail on the head for me. Even though nothing changed in the last few weeks on the outside, a month ago I would have said "I do triathlons" and now I am an athlete, a triathlete. The shift has been entirely mental but I find I carry it into training and my whole life.

Kathleen said...

You know, I don't think I have really thought about or questioned whether or not I am an athlete. I am athletic, I do athletic things, so yes, I am an athlete. If we are talking about how slow I am, or how much more I weigh then the tiny thing I am racing against then that is a different matter all together but it doesn't make me any less of an athlete.
Do I wish I could be a "better athlete" (how I would define that) sure, most definately. Maybe that will come, maybe it won't but either way I am still an athlete.
Julie, you are an athlete.

Deb said...

I find it easier to refer to myself as a triathlete then an athlete for some reason. I'm not sure why. Having said that, I still hesitate in some groups and revert to the "I do triathlons" thing.

I think it's my physical appearance that gives me that hesitation as well. I'll have a much easier time with it once I feel like I look like an athlete. At least I think I will.

It's mental though; it's all mental. I force myself to use the triathlete term more and more. Gradually it has become less awkward for me to say.

adena said...

You are most definitely an athlete! This reminds me of my 'you guys' and 'the rest of us' post. In the end, who cares what you are called, I call you fantastic, an inspiration and a huge motivator for me. You are awesome.

Also, you got JohnP to write a great comment with no usual John cheekiness. You are special!!

Christi said...

I have only one comment. YOU ARE AN ATHLETE! Oh yeah, averaging 17mph on the bike makes me officially in awe of you!!!

Junk Food Runner said...

I totally understand! I feel like a fraud saying "I'm a runner." I run, but am I deserving of that title?

I think you are definitely an athlete. I don't think weight or age matters at all. There are Clydesdale and Athena divisions, age divisions up to 90+, etc. So athletes come in all ages, shapes, and sizes.

Terzah said...

I'm in exactly the same spot. I run a lot, I've done five marathons and lots of shorter races. But an athlete? Me? Nah. I'm a bookworm who runs.

It's really silly, I guess, but I can't shake it!

brg said...

Living in Boulder is tough(and inspiring). You are constantly exposed to some of the best athletes in the world. So it's the difference pretty glaring between the pros and us normal people.

Last year to celebrate my 50th birthday I did a 6 day mtn bike stage race in Breckenridge. I "won" my AG - but there were only 2 of us. My friend, Dana gets mad at me when I always qualify my "win" with that comment. She says it's because not many 50 year olds can ride at altitude on technical trails 6+ hours a day for 6 days straight. but I still feel like a fraud. Until I get a lot faster in mtn biking and running I will probably always say "i'm athletic but not an athlete".

adena said...

You've been tagged in my latest post. I hope I got you before anyone else did!! haha

Karen said...

I totally get that... I see all the hard core runners and triathletes and don't feel like I measure up. Then you think, at what point are you going to cut yourself some slack and be satisfied with what you have accomplished. It still feels weird to say I am a triathlete although technically I suppose I am. For me, it is a confidence issue. Never quite good enough...

luckytiff said...

I wrote a post about this a few weeks ago so I totally know how you are feeling. http://luckytiff.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/inner-couch-potato-vs-inner-athlete/

Carole Sharpless said...

Giiiiiiiiiirl you are SO an athlete!!!!!

Go get 'em!!!!

Jill said...

Great post! I struggle with the same thing and rarely do I want to take credit for what I have done...mostly because I feel like if I can do it...anyone can do it!

You are an athlete...you are! But I totally understand your thinking of it like this...I do the same thing.

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