Habit or Hobby?

So I’ve been thinking a lot about my running lately.

This is nothing new. It somewhat comes of with the territory of 4 hour jaunts in the woods and having a running podcast (as well as a radio show and associating oneself with various running groups.) But lately I’ve been thinking about it in the context of the question, “What do you do for fun?

Running in the woods is totally fun. Whether it’s one hour at tempo with your heart bursting out of your chest as you careen through Mendon Ponds Park or it’s a longer affair with pictures of ponds and sits on logs for snacks (oh, hooray for smuggled in woodland snacks!) There is nothing better than a run in the woods.

Training is not so fun (I think… maybe.)

Almost as soon as I started running for fun, I started training for races. Why? Why would I invite structure and rigor into fun? I dunno. But I did. And that’s why I’ve been thinking about it.

I mostly told myself I had to have a schedule or else the running would never happen. I’d fill the time with so much other life that I’d never run. And so I got a plan. And I ran on a schedule. And that was good for a while.

But then it started to be a grind… and I HAD to run whether I wanted to or not. Not wanting to, that was unexpected. And then I started making every run be “a thing”

Do you have the right shoes for the place you are going? Short sleeve or long sleeve? Handheld bottle or hydration vest or waist pack? hat or buff? trail or road? Run in the rain or wait for the rain to pass? What about… why not… maybe you should… UGH!

Struggle Bus
All aboard the struggle bus!!

The English language is funny. And complicated. So complicated that it is oftentimes quite difficult to say exactly what you mean to say without saying 1,000 words. And so we use labels. Somehow we feel like using the least amount of words can take the place of the inordinate amount of words we don’t want to say.

Runner? jogger? ultrarunner? trailrunner? roadrunner?

So I’ve been wondering if my running is a habit or a hobby?

I think it became a hobby when I started collecting trinkets and baubles and getting to know all the nooks and crannies but not really progressing or going anywhere with it… Lining up all your running shoes just so, like a lego collector assembling all their mini-figs into a scene. I mean that’s what collecting baseball cards or playing video games or model trains or puzzles are considered, right? Hobbies.

But hobby implies some sort of lack of seriousness. That’s very unfair to some of the more serious hobbyists I know.

Maybe it’s a habit. Just something I do. Do the thing and don’t obsess over it. And to run as a habit would be great, right? Sturdy and reliable. Always knowing that your next run is right around the corner.

But habit has a negative connotation that imples robotic, dependent, joyless. Wake up, run, repeat. Left foot, right foot, repeat. A smoker doesn’t think every cigarette has to be the best. It just has to be a cigarette.

So yeah… english is weird. What I want to do is run regularly and get better at it while having fun. Maybe that’s a lifestyle.

I don’t know. What I do know is that I was struggling to stay on my training plan and I was tired of stinking at workouts and so I didn’t run because I didn’t want to do workouts and then I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t running. I think.

No Fun Zone
All Work + No Play = No Fun Zone

So now, I am making a habit to enjoy my hobby as a lifestyle. I am doing a running streak. Every day. One mile minimum. But do some more some days, so I don’t die at my races. And it has done wonders. I’ve run in cargo shorts. I’ve run at 5:45am and 10:40pm. I’ve run with a burger and a beer (or two) in my belly. I’ve run 19 miles in 4 hours 45 minutes and I’ve run 1 mile in 12 minutes. And every run has been a fun adventure.

So Streakin Happy!

So I’m going to keep doing this up to my next race, which is Cayuga Trails Marathon. And probably even after that. But that’s not a definite plan. Because plans can change.

What about you? Is running your hobby, your habit, your passion? And just what do you do for fun?

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