Ok so I have a confession to make. This may come as a shock to my readers, and for a long time I have kept this hidden as a guilty secret. I first realized I had this problem as a young child and while many thought I would grow out of it and become more ‘normal’ I suspected I was stuck with it. Only recently have I become more accepting and comfortable with myself and prepared to express this embarrasing truth. I’m not really a ‘sporty’ person.
There I have told you all now, the Rugby World cup left me cold. I don’t really care. I wasn’t bothered by the Ashes, or Wimbledon or the last World Cup, even most of the Olympics was passed up in favour of a good documentary. I have watched a bit of the London Marathon on telly in the last couple of years but that’s more to see if I can spot somebody I know rather than a major interest in the sport itself.
I knew I wasn’t ‘sporty’ pretty much from day one at school. While my peers were kicking a ball around in the playground, I was reading computer magazines and trying to write programs in my head. That’s not to say I’ve never kicked a football, I think that is a legal requirement for someone with my particular genitals, it’s just that it was never a first, second or even third choice for activity. I did do some physical pursuits though, I was all about adventure and exploring, so spent much time trapesing round local woods pretending I was a character from the Lord of the Rings, or whatever fantasy book I was reading at the time. I even took up Kung Fu for about a year or so, I enjoyed the workout and the progress, gaining belts and seeing just how far I had come. I can still remember showing off how high I could raise my leg, and doing the splits to impress those less fit. Breaking boards featured quite highly too if I remember, and then there were the Martial Arts movies and mysticism which appealed to the geek side of me.
It’s never been laziness which has made me not sporty, I think it has more to do with being competitive. I’m just not that a competitive person, the way it was presented to me was that not everybody could win, there always had to be a loser, and for me that just didn’t seem fair. Why should somebody else be made to feel bad about themselves just because I was good at something. Amongst my programming buddies at school the only way you got the buzz of acheivement was by sharing that success with everybody else. More a question of look what I have learnt to be able to do, and I’ll show you how to do it too, then we can both do better in future. This co-operative attitude didn’t go down to well with the sporty types at school. Even as an adult I managed to annoy a team building leader by encouraging and helping my supposed opponent in a competitive game. The trouble is that I feel best when everyone is included.
I think this is why I have ended up as a runner, it started out as a co-operative exercise where I and a bloke at work were doing a half marathon together. There was no competition just a mutual desire to survive till the end. During this training journey I discovered that runners really want each other to do well and the pinnacle of success is to break a PB, not to beat somebody else. I don’t know how this would translate into other sports. Football teams and their fans don’t strike me as the kind of people who would just be happy for you because you scored more goals than you did in any other game. In fact I am sure that positively encouraging the other team to get another goal just so they could beat their previous record is something to be frowned upon.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I don’t have any rivalries at all in my running, I have a friend who is actually just a bit quicker than me and she is my target. If I can get a faster time than her I feel like I am definitely on the right track, however I also love to see her go quicker I know the buzz you get from it and neither of us usees our pace to beat the other with. There are other people who used to outpace me all the time but I have been lucky enough to have the time to be consistent with my training and I know I am now quicker. My reaction is not to gloat at how much more of a winner I am, it is to see if I can help pace them around to an even faster times so we are both making progress.
So there we have it my secret is out. Don’t bother to ask me how my team is doing, or if I watched the tennis or show jumping last night, I won’t have. Don’t drop the names of footballers, or rugby players, or exponents of brockian ultra cricket, I will have
no idea who you are talking about. I just am not sporty, but ask if I can pace you to a sub 25-26 parkrun and I will be ‘on it like a car bonnet’. It’s what I love, pushing myself further than I once thought possible, and watching others acheive something that once was just a pipe dream. I am a non sporty runner, and I love the sound of the PB klaxxon.