Thursday, August 12, 2010

When Do You Become An Athlete?

Merriam Webster defines athlete as "a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina." I've been getting in pretty good shape, but I don't think I'm an "athlete" yet. Not by a long shot. To me, athlete implies not just physical fitness, but also participation in some kind of competition. But how often, and what kind?

I was thinking about this as I was swimming laps today. I did 1/2 mile in 24 minutes. A mile, 5280 feet, is 1609.344 meters, so a 1/2 mile is about 800 meters. The women's Olympic record for 800 meters is 8:14.10. Yeah, I'm super-slow in comparison. Should I set a goal of a 12-minute half-mile? Could I be an athlete then?

What are your thoughts? What makes an athlete?


  1. Well I've got a trainer but I don't think I will ever be an Athlete. When I hear the word Athlete what comes into my mind is.... sports teams, the Olympics, people who are totally dedicated and obsessed with sports, people with amazing abilities. I don't see myself ever being considered an athlete, but hey, if you can swim 800 meters in 12 minuets I would definitely consider you at athlete. I say go for it!!

    I think I'm too much inside the box on this one.

  2. Here's the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) on "Athlete:"

    1. A competitor or performer in physical exercises or games. 2. A strong competitor; a vigorous performer. 3. A person who is physically strong and fit by training and exercise; a muscular or physically robust person.

    So you don't have to compete, but 2 out of 3 definitions include competition as a key component.

    I'm not a competitive athlete. Right now I'm more of a pathlete (I walked 30 miles of path this past week).

    I think it's good to have a goal for yourself and in that way you are competitive because you're a part of HWHL. And you're rockin' it!

  3. I think Athlete can mean many things. First I think you do actually need to compete in some sort of competition.

    Becky didn't you just do a race? Yep, in my book that makes you an athlete.

    Now there are competitive athletes, those actually wanting to win, maybe their age group or a training partner. This is the step that happens after the I'm just happy to complete the race stage.

    Then there are professional athletes. These are the cream of the crop and get paid to do what they do even if they don't win.

    I think when you start doing a lot of physical exercise there are two categorizes that you can fit in, gym rat or athlete. I want to be an athlete, thus I enter into races so I can feel like I'm accomplishing something more than just being healthy!