Why flaunting your fitness defeats the healthy aim of exercise.
A couple of months ago, when the winter air warmed and daylight began to stretch further into evening, I dusted off my mountain bike, threw it on the roof of my Impreza, and drove west. An hour later, I parked at a familiar trailhead in the hills beyond Boulder’s city lights. I rode into the forest. I pedaled for miles along singletrack that curled through the woods, my heart hammering against my chest. I burned a few hundred calories. I finished exhausted and euphoric. Afterward I packed up, drove home, and went on with my evening. I never told anyone about the ride, until now. I figured: Who cares?
I may be alone in that sentiment. If there’s one thing Colorado’s runners, cyclists, and fitness buffs like to do, it’s talk—incessantly—about their running, cycling, and fitness feats. Facebook walls and Twitter feeds are littered with news of mundane workouts: Woke up at 5 a.m. this morning and ran 10 miles! Signed up for another triathlon, what was I thinking?! Spin class really kicked my butt tonight! Social media invites all kinds of babbling about all kinds of things the rest of us don’t really need to know, but this self-promotion masquerading as friendly banter has seeped outside the cloud.
My first encounter with this type of blathering came when two of my roommates signed up for a triathlon. They quickly started measuring their lives in distances: “Did you know it’s 1.2 miles to Cheesman Park, another 1.4 around the park, and another dozen if I head to the Cherry Creek Resevoir?” Two sips into happy hour beers with these dudes, and I felt like I was being baited into a pissing contest. A seemingly innocuous question about their weekends would turn into a blow-by-blow of their exercise routines.
I know what you’re thinking: Chill out.Coloradans take their active lifestyles seriously. Indeed, in many ways staying fit in Colorado is its own religion. Once a week or (usually) more, believers practice these teachings in the peaceful temple of the Rocky Mountains. So don’t get me wrong: You should feel good about your workout. My beef is with the holier-than-thou tone. When you’re so focused on reciting your resting heart rate and minute-per-mile pace to anyone who will listen, you start to sound more invested in boosting your ego than your fitness level. Exercising is a means of pushing yourself to your limits and achieving personal goals. That should be your pick-me-up. Really, the last thing you should need is someone patting you on the back telling you how awesome you are.
The founder of Taoism once said, “Silence is a source of great strength.” So by all means, go sign up for another triathlon, 10K, or marathon. Feel free to train your butt off. Be proud of yourself when you cross the finish line. But please, oh please, shut up about it.
Check out five of our favorite summer races—but don’t you dare brag about signing up for them—at 5280.com/glorygonewild.