I enjoy the majority of sports and not because I have a physical education background. For example, kicking or hitting a ball around can be quite a lot of fun and good to watch (and not to mention all the physical and psychological benefits that go with it). Why I say this is because recently I have strayed slightly away from just pure running and have been playing in a low key/social tennis competition once a week: and rather enjoying it. It has helped that I used to play tennis regularly before embarking on a running career so I am familiar with the technical aspects of the game. Regardless of that, my first thoughts about it all is that it’s definitely not as taxing on body and mind as a middle/long distance running race but is still a good workout and a lot of fun to play. However, before you think this is turning into the praising and exalting of other sports, it’s not: nothing beats competitive running! And I mean competitive – I enjoy other sports for fitness, fun, and enjoyment just as much as the act of running (and, shockingly, sometimes a lot more than the act of running) but when it comes to the World of competitive sport (and the afterglow of competition) – give me running any day.
Take the sport I mentioned above, tennis – great sport, but playing for two weeks to win a Grand Slam doesn’t appeal to me – let me have it over in one brutal Marathon that lasts just over two hours – not two damn weeks! Two weeks for things to potentially go wrong, two weeks where injuries can pop up during each match you have to play, two weeks of thinking and the potential of doubts creeping in, two weeks where on one of the days (say, 2nd round) you would beat anyone in the World but come the Grand Final you get a little unlucky and are a little off and that 2nd round means nothing (admittedly, on the track, we have heats but we don’t have to win 6 heats and then your 7th race, the final, over a period of two weeks – the running equivalent of what you need to do to win a Grand Slam in tennis).
I love the simplicity of running, the purity. I can train anywhere (well, almost), equipment free, time efficient and on my own terms – I feel more free. There is also little outside interference when competing – I can have a great day, win a race, get a certain time and be selected for a representative team – no bad umpiring/refereeing decisions and little or no reliance on luck and someone else’s opinion on whether I should be selected (the time and place are there in black and white).
When I play tennis I can play really well and get close in every game played and still lose 6-0 – in a running race I get something more for my efforts – usually at least the time corresponds to the effort I put in and my fitness level. In nearly every other sport the majority of competitors will never get to compete against the best in the World – in a road race I can toe the line with the Olympic champion and World record holder, regardless of my ranking. In summary, no other sport, competition wise (serious competition) does it for me like running. It doesn’t suit everyone but it suits my temperament and personality just fine!