Author: Sage Rountree
Last August, I traveled to Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer show, where I taught a yoga class in prAna’s beautiful Rejuvenation Room and did a few events promoting my book The Runner’s Guide to Yoga. On the way from the airport, I asked my friend Dave, the marketing director for my publisher, what the scene was like.
“These are outdoor people, not fitness people,” he explained.
“What’s the difference?”
“Outdoor people wake up in the morning thinking, What could I do today?The world is their playground. Fitness people wake up in the morning thinking, What SHOULD I do today?”
As a coach—the one telling my athletes what they should do—I found this distinction fascinating. Fitness people do have a more Puritan ethos, one that presumes that hard work is directed toward a goal, that there is some necessary and essential element of obligation and even suffering in training. In contrast, in this distinction, is the happy-go-lucky approach of undirected play.
The dichotomy seems to carry in it a value judgment. In college, I heard a friend say, “There are two types of people: those who like the Beatles and those who like the Rolling Stones,” in a tone that made an explicit Type A/Type B distinction and that made the listener want to be a Stones fan
Maybe it’s not so clear-cut. Maybe there’s a hybrid place, a middle ground. Without structured training, we can’t be in shape to wake up with the world as our oyster. Without play, the structured training is joyless. I’ve felt a shift in my training in recent years, where the race itself is much less important than the pleasure of being in shape to head out for a long run in the woods every week. When we make this shift, each run—yes, even if they are part of a structured plan—can be a privilege, something we can wake up in the morning and choose to do, out of all possible choices, beyond obligation.
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