Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Does the Term Recreational Running Really Mean?

A bit of time ago a running friend of mine suggested that after the latest injury this person had suffered, the future might only hold recreational running.  I thought this was an interesting concept--what is recreational running compared with any other type of running.

So, I went to dictionary-dot-com and looked up recreational.  Of course, it reads something like "of or having to do with recreation."  So, I look up recreation and we find that it has to do with something yielding relaxation and enjoyment.

By that definition, I'm a recreational runner.

Do I have goals?  Yes, but that doesn't make it any less relaxing or enjoyable.

Do I sometimes run pretty hard?  Sure, but that doesn't mean it is not enjoyable and it is still a way to relax some parts of my life.

Do I race and intend to continue racing?  Sure--still enjoyable.

If I was told I had to run slower or less frequently would that change any of this?  As long as I could run injury-free, I think that the answer is no.  I would still find it relaxing and enjoyable.

An injury could make it not so relaxing or enjoyable.  But if I were injured and could return from the injury at any level of running, I would still find it fulfilling and I would adjust my goals.  Disappointed--sure.  But I don't see much difference in whether it would be recreational or not.

One other thing that I recognize is how much the recreation (enjoyability and relaxation) does require at least a little diversification compared with what I had been doing for quite some time.  I enjoy having a core set of runners with whom I work out.  A core set who can push me to run my strongest--as that is such an important component of what makes running enjoyable for me.

But over the past two weekends, I have run distances (3.5 miles in one case and 18 in another) with individuals with whom I either had not run anything close to that before or at least had not run with for a couple years.  

What that has led me to realize is how much diversification can help.  Different speeds.  Different styles.  Different goals.  Different perspectives.  Different stories to share.  Each of those adds to the value in terms of relaxation and enjoyment.  

One friend I passed this morning pointed out how "late" (it wasn't even 8:30 yet when we passed) it was for me.  Yes, I will have to adjust my running once the fall arrives as my youngest will have ice hockey and I teach Sunday school at 9:15.  That is true.

However, the more people I can choose from to run with, the easier it will be to find someone with whom to go on a run at any start time (at least in the AM) on any day.  And enjoy all the stories, perspectives, styles, and paces that may come my way.

And if I look around, I have several groups to link with.  Some more formally than others.  Some more frequently than others.  And some that I have been in touch with more recently than others.  But when all is said and done, I have a wide variety of individuals with whom I can run a wide variety of distances with different goals in mind.

That is one of the other beauties of what running means for me right now.  Since I have achieved most of the "big" goals (getting to Boston and running it), I now am not "goal-less" but sort of in between as I wait to determine what my next "big goal" if any should be. I can always run faster.  I can continue to improve. Or I can just continue to use running as a creative and exciting way to have an excuse to eat the bread and cheese I love, to make friends, to keep my cardio in health check, and to clear my mind.

I just hope the people I run with feel the same. 

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