Why should I need to pick a group to identify myself with, anyway?
The Internet has been flooded with personality quizzes lately. In the past few months, I’ve learned which Game of Thrones character I am, what city I should live in and that I would most definitely not survive a zombie apocalypse.
I’ve also learned that I am really, really good at procrastination when I’m under deadline for this column.
Needless to say, I take most personality quizzes with a grain of salt. (Except for the zombie apocalypse thing. I am definitely worried about that result.)
Still, it’s fun to take these quizzes and share with friends on Facebook, to learn about the silly labels we can place on ourselves. But sometimes, labels just don’t apply.
After taking a “What Is Your Spirit Animal?” quiz with my friend Colin, we were laughing about my result (the wombat) when he posed an interesting question:
“What kind of athlete are you?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Like a whiny athlete? Or a hungry one? Because I’m definitely both of those.”
He shook his head. “No, I’m talking about what you call yourself. You do a lot of different types of races. Are you a runner? A triathlete? A cyclist? Swimmer?”
The question gave me pause. “I guess I’m all of those, too. I usually just say I’m an endurance athlete.”
“But what kind of endurance athlete? Each one of those groups have their own personality quirks. If someone held a gun to your head and told you to pick an identity, what would you say—runner, triathlete…”
“I’d say that person had anger issues.”
Though I managed to dodge the question that day, it stuck with me. As I went for a run that night, I pondered further.
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What kind of athlete am I? There’s no quiz for that. From half marathons to Ironman triathlons to 100-mile cycling events, I enjoy it all. I follow the Boston Marathon with just as much vigor as the Tour de France. I will never turn down the opportunity to swim laps with my friends. When I ride with road cyclists, I poke fun at triathletes and their pointy aero helmets; when I ride with triathletes, I give the roadies smack talk. And we all give the mountain bikers crap, mostly because we’re secretly jealous of their skills.
It doesn’t matter, anyway—at the end of our respective workouts, we all end up at the same coffee shop, swapping stories on the day’s adventures. That’s when I feel most like a member of the endurance community. In spite of the good-natured flak we give each other, we all respect a fellow athlete’s willingness to discover the awesomeness of the human body—whether that takes place on two wheels, two feet or in the pool.
Why should I need to pick a group, anyway? This isn’t high school, where I need to stay within my clique or risk a swirly from the class bully. If anyone ever holds a gun to my head, I’m fairly certain the hooligan is more concerned with the contents of my wallet, not what group of spandex-clad geeks I best identify with. I love all endurance athletes, and can’t imagine choosing one subgroup over another.
Unless, of course, one group can promise to save me during a zombie apocalypse. Hey, I need all the help I can get.
About The Author:
Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke