Saturday, May 25, 2013

Like a parent, I can't pick a favorite

When I was a youngster, I used to ask my dad who his best friend was. He would always answer that it depended on the situation, and I never understood that.

Twenty years later (yikes!), I get it. It's how I'd answer the question of which athletic activity I prefer.

For the past few years, this wasn't the case; I had a cut-and-dried response — biking.

Biking was easier (much less wheezing, sweating and aching), and I'd always found that what came easiest to me was the most fun for me. Getting myself out the door and onto my bike didn't require as many pep talks or long-term goals as running did.

Running was useful when I had less time to exercise, I'd concede, and it was a more intense workout. It was also more convenient in terms of the amount of equipment and road/trails needed.

Even after a year of almost exclusively running, even after two blogs about running, even after all the races I'd register for, I stuck with these conclusions.

"I'm not a natural runner. I'm built better for biking," I thought. "If my podiatrist had told me not to run because of my bunions, I would have listened. If some weird supernatural being appeared and demanded that I give up one or the other, I totally would stop running." (The mind goes strange places on a long run.)

But recently, I read Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project," which planted a little seed in my subconscious. The first of her Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness states:
To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
I'd always believe that the discipline and end goals of running appealed to me — still true — but even when I'm not training for a race, I feel like I've accomplished something after a run. And I think that this "something" is Rubin's idea of the atmosphere of growth.

So now, to answer the question no one but myself has ever asked me, I would say that the activity I prefer depends on the need I want met.

Do I want a challenge and a solid endorphin buzz at the end when it's below 70 degrees and/or I have 30 minutes to play? Running it is.

Do I want more time outside, more ability to relax and enjoy the experience and even keep a conversation going, and/or to get somewhere without driving, when it's warmer? Time to ride.

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