Last weekend I went to a party and while I was there got involved in a discussion about whether running can and should be considered a sport. The gentleman was asserting that unless you are training or competing that it is not considered a sport. It was a debate revolving around semantics - what is a sport? What is competition? For many people who don't run, the act is seen as a means to an end. Back when I was on the tennis team in highschool, we did suicides as punishment, running a mile around the track was our warmup. The end game was never just.. running.
The dictionary defines a sport as "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature". I don't know if anyone could claim that running is an athletic activity or that it requires neither skill nor physical prowess. And if you do think that, I'd like for you to go outside, do hill repeats for a while, and then get back to me. And one of the things I love about running is that I can be competitive without even running next to another person. It's all about pushing myself - running faster, harder, longer than I did the day before. I don't know how that can be considered anything other than competition?
So as far as I'm concerned: running is my sport. Running is what all of my other activities help me to train for. Running is my end goal. I grew up playing every sport under the sun and I've never connected to one as I have with running. Today, for example, I decided to go on a run during my lunch hour. My office is right on the Charles River so I like to take advantage of that when I can. I've been feeling stressed and blah, and besides, I haven't had a good, solid run in what felt like ages. It may sound trite, but I felt relaxed almost immediately after starting. It was chilly and pretty windy but I felt so peaceful as did my 4.3 mile loop along the Esplanade.
I know it was a good run not only because of how I felt mentally, but how my body was reacting physically. My mile paces got faster as the run progressed: 9:38, 9:20, 9:13 and 8:44. I finished feeling phenomenal, that's the only way I can explain it. The bad mood had dissipated somewhere over the Charles river and things just seemed.. better.
So, if you don't think that what I have spent countless hours training for is considered a sport, well, that's fine. If you don't want to consider me an athlete either, that's your prerogative. I'm still going to go ahead and run my half marathons (and probably another marathon at some point!). If I've learned anything in life it's that you can't change everyone's mind, and it's pretty pointless to even try.
What do you think? Is running a sport? Or just something crazy sadists do to torture themselves?