Monday, October 28, 2013

Is running a hobby?

Is running a hobby? Are triathlons a hobby? They may be for you, but I have to say they are more than that for me. Of course how you define 'hobby' is important. 

I think hobbies are something that give you enjoyment and reduce stress. 

Here's one example of why I don't think this is a hobby: My husband has recently started cycling and he loves it. Loves it. He's zipping around the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh at high speeds and coming home charged with excitement and motivation. I don't feel that way about biking. It's scary, uncomfortable, stressful and hard. There are moments of calm satisfaction where I notice I didn't crash, stop or wimp out. Ok, maybe sometimes I wimp out. But I get my bike workouts in. Why? Because I love triathlons. And if you don't work on your biking, you're not going to have a good race. If you keep doing something you need to do but don't really love it, is it a hobby? 

On the trainer, on the roads, it's tough. 
Look up hobby and you'll read that it's 'a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.'

Yes, running and doing triathlons aren't my job. But they certainly help me with my job! They provide lots and lots of inspiration, help with creative strategizing, help me network, provide content. And I have gotten contracts and clients because of my experience running and competing in races. So...maybe in a way it is part of my occupation. 

Does running relax me? Do triathlons relax me? 

They make me a better person. They make me happy. But a massage also relaxes me. Wine relaxes me.  And I can't say they play the same role in my life as running and triathlons. Working to improve my swimming form - and making good progress - boosts my self-confidence and improves my fitness. Running makes me tired, sometimes exhausted. I get injured. But it frames my identity and gives me strength to tackle writing challenges, parenting challenges, and fashion challenges. 

Knitting is a hobby. Gardening is a hobby. If someone told me I could never do those activities again, I think I'd survive. But I would be devastated if someone told me I could never run, bike or swim again. Even biking. Yes, I'd miss it. (Now that I think of it, if someone told me I could no longer read I'd be devastated, and I think that activity is elevated beyond hobby level in my life, too.)

I change how I eat, sleep and schedule my day to accommodate these activities. Is that what people do for a hobby?

I don't win races. I have mostly finisher's medals. Sometimes I place in my age group. That's pretty cool.  I know I am not the fastest one out there. But I'm out there. I'm crossing the state of Pennsylvania with my husband and three kids, my bike and a wetsuit, to jump in a lake at 7am! 

So is it a hobby? It's not really a job. Is it a lifestyle?