Identity and risk

Are we our activities or do our activity make us? When someone asks if you ride do you respond "I'm a mountain biker" affirming that your identity, part of yourself is inextricably tied to riding? Or do you answer with "yes, I mountain bike," noting that while you ride, it's only a facet of who you are? Simple word choices and phrases but they reveal so much about the person responding. We are all invested in our activities - from life to work to sports. It's that balance between them that create a healthy sense of wellbeing. Too much of any one thing and there is always the risk that one mistake, one injury could take it all alway and upset the balance and sense of identity.

And what are we willing to give up and still maintain our identities? It's a question I've been pondering over the last couple of months with the seeming never-ending setbacks of my eye. I love running, but I don't necessarily consider myself a runner anymore. Running is something I do - something I love. It's part of who I am, but not the whole. Had I been given the simple option of having clear vision but needing to give up running entirely - it's something I would have considered. There would have been tears shed since running has always been a passion of mine. But it's not my life. I've been lucky and able to branch out from just running to exploring in so many different ways. But since not running didn't manage the issue and I'm not about to give up both running and riding - that gets a little too close to home - I'll have to turn to medication to manage my eye. Granted, I'm still not sure that I'll be able to run like I was before - but I've been able to ride this month without issues. And that's also shown me that while I love riding, I need the flexibility of other pursuits. I want to move and do, but always on two wheels has been a bit much this past six weeks. So some how, I will return to exploring trails on two feet.

Perhaps it was a gentle shove for this year. Or more then a gentle shove, a hard push. Things hinting at not running this year have been piling up and I just wasn't paying attention. First the cancelation of the Meowler. Without that race, I really didn't have any "need" to run. Sure, I had some fun races on the schedule, but they had all been planned as supported long runs. Now I could just shift focus and make the races a little harder and actually race! Then came the crash at Leadville. Riding inside wasn't painful at all, but running? Couldn't do that for a week! I had to change things up to even get two longish runs done before the first planned trail race. Maybe it was the Leadville crash that started this whole cascade - who knows. The time seems reasonable if a little spread out. I've been able to train on the bike throughout this visual hubbub - at varying intensities - but I've been able to ride. And that's where my goals are this year. On the bike. So perhaps I should not feel upset about missing the running and should take my sweet time building back into my usual running amount. More time on the bike will make me stronger in those specific events.

And so I'll look to the future - to possibly having to reshape my identity and my sense of self as just someone who rides and runs instead of a rider and a runner. We shall see. There are no guarantees for anything and if we allow the fear of what might happen overwhelm the possibilities, then are we truly living? There are risks in everything, every day. It's up to me (and everyone in my team) to decide how to best manage those risks.


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