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Sports & Identity

Posted Jan 31 2013 9:02am

How much does your sport determine your identity?

13 years ago, I began my running obsession. (Cue the OMG I'M OLD freakout.)

13 years ago, I began my running obsession. (Cue the OMG I’M OLD freakout.) Can you find me?!

Family and friends come first, but running is certainly at the top of the list of “important things to Kara”. I feel like it defines who I am…in a good way. Much of my life involves my love for running and all things sweat-filled. However, it doesn’t consume me. I have other things going on and a fairly well-rounded to-do list that includes happy hours with friends and game nights with the roommates. (Yes, GAME NIGHTS. Best thing ever.) Running isn’t my “only thing”. Running isn’t my career. I don’t depend on running to provide my paychecks. Well…it sort of does (I work for a non-profit that trains people to complete a marathon or triathlon and raise money for blood cancer research!) but I digress – I am not a professional athlete. My personal identity is partly determined by running; it’s what I love and who “Kara” is. But my professional identity? Not so much.

Although my job involves running...for fun!

Although my job does involve running…for fun!

Where do you draw the line between personal and professional identity? How do you determine your identity in general? How does it change when you get a paycheck in return? Lance Armstrong’s public identity has certainly been determined by his sport and his choices. (This post isn’t about him, promise.) Do you like having a separation between your career and your life?

Where do you draw the line between taking care of yourself and taking care of your career?

I can’t stop thinking about this article about Jason Taylor; an NFL legend and an all-around great guy who I’ve always loved following. His story shows just how much some people will go through for their sport; their career, their identity. The article is not about running, but I promise, it’s worth the read (even if you hate football). Read. I’ll wait!

Welcome back!

I love running. I tend to base my schedule around races; not the other way around. I wake up early (okay, only sometimes), I stay up late, I make sure to make time to run, bike, swim, or get my butt kicked in a strength training class. I take showers based on my workout schedule. If I didn’t workout one day, I probably didn’t shower either. (Why waste time showering if you didn’t get sweaty first?! Kidding…sort of.)

When looking for a place to live, one of my main criteria is how convenient it is to run. One town I lived in had no sidewalks, and there wasn’t much of a shoulder on the street so I couldn’t run there easily.

I moved.

For awhile I lived right along the Hudson river with views overlooking New York City. I couldn’t WAIT to run every day.

Seriously amazing.

Seriously amazing.

Happy!

Happy puppies everywhere!

But this JT story makes my heart hurt. Intense pain, seriously damaging injuries, and A LOT of modern medicine. JT still says he would sleep standing up on the stairs if it kept him in the game he loves. And I feel for him…but I’m also a big proponent of “listen to your body”…

The average person doesnt have access to powerful medicine before every event, or have a team of world renowned doctors at their fingertips. But we all know the feeling of injury, or simply not being able to do something you love…so what do you think? Did you finish the article thinking JT is absolutely insane, or do you feel for him? (Or a little of both!) Can you empathize with where he’s coming from?

How far would you go for YOUR sport? Your career?


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