Minimal criteria to be define as an active athlete [all should be fulfilled]:
- to be training in sports aiming to improve his/her performance/results
- to be actively participating in sport competitions
- to be formally registered in a local, regional, or national sport federation
- to have sport training and competition as his/her major activity [way of living] of focus of personal interest, devoting several hours in all or most of the days for these activities, exceeding the time allocated to other types of professional or leisure activities
The goal of their proposal is to differentiate and separate “excercisers” from “athletes” and to eliminate the “outdated” terms amateur and recreational athletes. The one chance I have to get to call myself an [recreational] athlete is apparently outdated and a misuse of the term “athlete”. In my pursuit of defining who I am in the world of sports, I found several papers and studies citing recreational athletes. “They’re studying us, so we actually matter…”, I said to myself. From sports nutrition for recreational athletes, to fatigue, injury recovery and prevention, there are studies and resources made available to recreational and amateur atheletes so said atheletes are healthy, fit, and injury-free.
If we, recreational and amateur athletes, participate in sports to increase health and fitness, improve performance, to have fun, finish a race, achieve a personal best, and sometimes to get that podium win, aren’t these goals closely similar to the goals of elite and professional athletes? Aside from the expected intensity of training as well as being paid to be a full-time athlete, what makes recreational and amateur athletes just “exercisers”?
Here is another perspective on the athlete vs. exerciser argument: “Are you an Athlete or Exerciser?” According to the author, “What matters is how you manage training within life and your mindset and intentions…” [Everret, 2014]. I can see and respect the author's point and completely understand that the purpose of the article is to not place judgment on anyone actively participating in their respective sports as non-elite and non-professional participant.
Listening and reading from iRaceLikeAGirl team members, here are some things I have learned from most of them on how they’re managing their training within life:
- they wake up early in the morning to train before their families wake up
- after training, they take care of their families so they can all get ready to go to work/school
- after work/school they take care of their families
- they do their second set of training routine at night before calling it a night
- and repeat…
- they spend their resources to pay for coaches, trainings, race entries, gears, recovery, etc.
- I have a training schedule and load that I follow every day and every week including rest/recovery days when I can spend time with friends, etc.
- I have a full-time job and train at night after work 2-3 hours at a time
- I prepare my meals [breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks] every week
- I fuel during training using the same food/drink that I would fuel myself with during the race
- I get neuromuscular therapy / sports massage once a week
- I invest in part-time assessment and coaching
- I allocate resources to gym membership, race entries, recovery tools, sports nutrition and gears
Listen to the podcast here: Angela's Corner - 3 MINDSET
As a recreational athlete what are my intentions for training and participating in sports?
Increase health & fitness: I want to stay fit and healthy. Participating in any sport activity is not just a thing to check off a bucketlist; I want it to be a part of my lifestyle. To be consistent with my health and fitness goals, I want something to train for and a routine to follow.
Improve performance: I train to build my base, get my mind and body strengthened and conditioned so I can set SMART performance goals every year/season.
Setting and meeting a goal[s]: Who does not like winning and getting up on the podium? Who does not want to achieve a personal best in every race? Who does not want to qualify for World Championships? I want all of that but I also want to have fun! What’s the point of training and performing if I am not having fun with it, instead suffering from training up to performance day? If my mind and body hate training and performing, there will not be another training and performance day for me.
Enjoyment during training and performance, for me, comes down to my goal — increase health and fitness and improve performance. In Sports and Exercise Psychology, there are two types of achievement orientation based on the Achievement Goal Theory [Duda & Hall, 2001; Dewck, 1986; Maehr & Nicholls, 1980; Nicholls, 1984; Roberts, 1993]:
- Outcome goal orientation [or competitive goal orientation / ego orientation]
- Task goal orientation [mastery goal orientation]
What differentiate the two types of orientation are: what motivates a person when training and performing; what success and failure means to that person; and that person’s perception of his/her ability, competence, and self-worth based on the result of his/her performance. The other being focused on comparing one’s performance with and defeating others while the other is about comparing one’s performance with personal standards and improvement.
With all these information, comparison and musings on how I manage my training, my mindset and intentions why I train and participate in sport activities, who am I? Can I actually call myself an athlete or do I have to meet one or a couple more criteria to call myself an “athlete”?