Stacey Margaret Jones: Runner or Biker?

I am a runner. You know this if you read my columns. But you also know I like to try different activities.

Given that I cycle much of the year, Jazzercise all year round, and long for a return to Pilates and yoga, what is it that makes me define myself as a runner instead of a biker?

I’ve been thinking about by self-identification as a runner or biker lately, as I’ve begun my seasonal biking routine of hitting the trails once or twice a week, because I really love cycling. Even a smashed window and a stolen purse (and matching wallet!) couldn’t deter me. That moment when I clip into my bike pedals and start to feel that every spoke and gear is part of my body, too, is addictive to me. The sounds of the gear switches and the tires meeting the road are better than music, and I often turn off my iTunes so I can listen to the bike and the sounds we make together as I ride.

Several years ago, I even rode my bike more than 400 miles with two friends in the now defunct Tour de Kota. Why do I not call myself a cyclist, then? Especially when I haven’t gone for a run in weeks?

Runne Or Biker

The answer lies in how I prioritize. That same year of the Tour de Kota, I returned mid-June, and put my bike away for most of the rest of the summer in order to train for the ING New York City Marathon, which was that November. And anytime the air gets even a little cooler in the summer, I don’t think of it as an opportunity for a more comfortable ride, but as a time to go out for a tolerable run.

Like me, my running friend Lauren doesn’t only run, no matter how devoted she is to it. She exercises to fitness DVDs, cycles and takes fitness classes to mix things up, accommodate her busy schedule and incorporate social time into her workouts.

“I’m a runner because running has always been there for me,” she said. “As long as I can remember, when I need to exercise, decompress, sweat or just get out of my head, I always turn to the pavement first.”

She also says that running doesn’t let her down by demanding a membership fee or a cash outlay on lots of expensive equipment. “All it asks of me when I need it is to put my shoes on, take one step after another, and go until I want to stop.”

There are many reasons I prefer running over everything else, and why I do the other activities only if they support my running life and fitness – running satisfies my aspirations of faster, stronger, better; supplies me with structured training programs and provides solitary time to exert and meditate simultaneously – but I think Lauren says it best when she outlines the straightforwardness of the run, and, therefore, the simplicity of the running life.

It reminds me of a Jumbo Elliott quote I use as a mantra when I’m thinking too much and trying to talk myself out of going on, running farther, pushing harder:


Act like a horse. Be dumb. Just run.

Just run.

So as I glide by those runners sweating through June, July and August on the path, cruising along on my Orbea Aqua, I might enjoy the speed and exploration of cycling, but I am also thinking about the days ahead when cooler weather returns and I get back to who I really am, a runner.

Tags: , ,