What is an Athlete Anyway?

Coming home from my 50K, I was tired.    It was a long drive and I thought I would break up the boring drive to let me Mom know I was finished.   She really has been one of my biggest champions on my journey.    She said a funny thing though.   She was telling me how she had been bragging about me to a friend.    She then said something that she totally meant as a compliment but made me scratch my head.

“Do you realize that this makes you a real athlete?”

I’m guessing the 3 marathons, countless half marathons, plus the other distances, and lets not forget the few sprint Tri’s I did did not make me a real athlete.


Then a funny thing happened two days later.   I was chatting with someone totally different about my race and she said the same thing.

I think people just like to categorize people.   Not sure why, but I think they do.

A while later I was in one of my Facebook groups and someone I don’t know  posed the question, “When did you consider yourself a runner or an athlete?”

Some people replied that they knew when they were in 8th grade, some when they ran their first 5K, and a whole host of other answers.    For me I know that it took a long time for me to identify as a runner and I’ve really never thought of myself as an athlete.   That was until very recently like driving home from a 50k.


It’s hard to think of yourself in these terms when you surround yourself with people who are so much more athletic than you.     I realize that I am more than a weekend warrior.   Per the definition, I guess some of it might apply.   Now, obviously, there are so many degrees of being an athlete and I think that is why most people even if they identify as a runner may not identify as an athlete.

My children do various sports.   They are not at the top of their field, but I know that they are athletes.    I would go toe to toe with someone who dismissed their athletic abilities.   They go to their practices.   They put in their time.   They work hard.   Period.

You know what, I’m not at the top of my field.   I’m not winning any races, but I’m out there.   I’m out there A LOT.   I’m putting in the time.    I work hard.   Your not finishing a 50K without stamina that’s for sure.  (that and a lot of fuel).

It’s funny a friend recently said to me when I was talking about the Dirty German and I was telling her that I was going with people running various distances.   Some were doing the 25K, another woman was doing the 50K, and two were running 50 miles.   Here response was spot on (and sorry, I’m going to paraphrase as I didn’t take notes that day:)

“No matter how awesome what your doing is there is always someone who is doing something more awesome.”

To a degree that is so true, but at the same time it doesn’t matter.    Someone running 50 miles, does not take away how awesome of an experience I had running a 50k.   Nor does my 50K take away from those BAMR’s who did the 25K.    And on that same day, my town was hosting a 5K and our race takes nothing away from them.

It is true there can only be one winner.    The thing is that each of us brings something different to the start line.    We all have gone through different things to get to where we are today.  We are not Elite Athletes nor are we Weekend Warriors.   We are athletes who are pushing ourselves to be the best that we can be.   We are competing against ourselves and I think that is what most of us know.   That’s why we often make our goals based on our PR’s (personal records).


I am so many things and now that I think about it I can add athlete to that list of things.

Are you an athlete?


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