People tell me all the time that I’m an athlete. I run half marathons, after all. Go drive 13.1 miles in your car — even to me, suddenly it seems like a long distance.
But am I really an athlete? Let’s take a look at the definition:
a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise
And now let’s look at the definition of proficient:
competent or skilled in doing or using something
It seems I am left with a catch-22 here. Am I proficient in sports? I’ve never won a race or an age group award. In fact for most races I am solidly BOTP (back of the pack). Everyone thinks they’re slow — even the elites, I’d wager — and yet I posted that photo of my view of my group run in my Weekly Wrap: the pack getting ever further and further away from me until they disappear altogether.
Doesn’t sound (or look) particularly competent or skilled to me!
Is finishing proficient?
I want to say that simply finishing a race requires some skill. And it does; it definitely does. Yet what percentage of runners who enter a race DNF (did not finish)? I don’t actually know, but my guess is that it’s a very small percentage.
The same with DNS (did not start). More people sign up for races than actually race. Life happens: illness, injury, family affairs. I’d still wager that if you combine DNSs and DNFs it’s only a small percentage of the number of racers.
But how about all the people that never start running at all?
And there are plenty. Or the people who try and give up — there are plenty of those, too.
Just continuing to do something doesn’t mean that you’re competent or skilled at it — it simply means you’re stubborn. Guilty as charged.
My Conclusion . . .
No, I don’t think you’re an athlete just because you run. Or swim. Or bike; well, you get the idea.
If you sing, and do it all the time, but can’t carry a tune — I’m sorry, you’re not a singer. You’re simply someone who enjoys singing and isn’t very good at it.
At what point could I call myself an athlete?
I’m a fitness enthusiast. I’m a runner, a swimmer, a yoga lover. I lift weights. None of those things makes me an athlete; I am just not gifted that way.
I don’t know that I could ever call myself an athlete. I doubt it.
So let me know in the comments:
Would you call yourself an athlete?
Why or why not?
What do you enjoy doing but are not very good at?