I love this post.
My sports are running, climbing, hiking, swimming, archery, and yoga. (I find it helps me get up and get moving to think of what I do as 'sports" rather than "exercise." Sports are fun. Sports are running around with your friends. Exercise is a chore.) I also lift weights, though I have been really bad about it lately, because it's difficult to work in lifting around climbing (both are extreme strength-training exercise, and both require recovery days, and I love climbing more than I ever loved lifting.) and I used to drill-kickbox and loved it, but I just don't have time for a martial art now.
Here's the thing. I am a 5'7" 223-lb 38-year-old woman. I am a big girl, and I am not as young as I once was. I have always had kind of crappy balance, I have not-so-great knees and have since high school, and I have a shoulder that I screwed up when I was 21 and which will never be quite right. I'm large-breasted and broad-hipped and I have the bone structure of my Ukrainian and Swedish ancestors who pulled ploughs and hauled logs all day.
I am built, in short, like a draft horse. A Suffolk, probably, because I'm not tall enough to be a Shire. I can haul wood or chop water (as batwrangler says, it IS winter in New England out there!) pretty much all damned day. But the sports I love reward lightness, quickness, balance, strength, and the ability to get your foot up to hip level and stand up on it. (I am very flexible, with the exception of my hips. That helps a lot, and I have.... oh, holy shit... 22 years of yoga practice to thank for it. How on earth am I old enough to have been doing yoga for 22 years?)
So all these things I love to do, I'm kind of crap at. My strength to weight ratio sucks; when I run, I might as well be a 160-pound woman running in a 60 pound pack; my body is too bulky for twists and compressions in yoga to be anything but frustration and torture--or would be, if I got competitive about it.
I work out six days a week. My 27-year-old roomie, who is largely sedentary, can kick my ass from here to Boston in a run around the neighborhood or a run up a wall. My hiking buddy is a guy four inches taller than me, and all of it leg.
Honestly, I feel like a load most of the time when I'm out with friends. But you know what?
I do it anyway. Because it's good for me, because it makes it bearable to live in my brain, because the endorphins you get from climbing are one of the few things that can snap me out of an anxiety or depression cycle, because the world is a beautiful place and I like being out in it. Because due to my sports, I have core strength like whoa, and it's damned useful in daily life. When you fall down a flight of stairs, it's core that keeps you upright rather than ass over teakettle. When you pick up a laundry basket or reach down a can from the top shelf, that's core.
When I lean into the pantry over a pile of crap in the doorway and balance myself with an extended leg and fingers hooked around the doorframe, that's climbing skills. When I pick my hundred pound dog up and put him on a grooming table, that strength comes from all the work I do. When I run through an airport with a twenty-pound carryon, that's strength and wind I earn by hitting the sidewalk every morning. When the inevitable awfulness of life hits, and I can find that part of myself that gets centered inside the bow when I shoot, or the courage that lets me stand up on a bit of rock or plastic the size of a JFK half dollar thirty feet up a wall--that keeps me functional through it.
So yeah, I'm a crap runner. I'm a crap climber. I'm crap at yoga, too. I'm seriously a crap swimmer. I'm a moderately okay archer when I have time to practice, but my eyesight kind of sucks.
And I'm proud of it. Because I'm a runner and a climber and a yogi, and it makes my life better and less painful in so many ways.
And now I'm going to go get my dog and put on the scariest sports bra you have ever seen (seriously, this thing is like a knee brace with shoulder straps) and go for a run in the falling snow. Because I can.
I'm taking up caving. With my 125-pound roommate.
I hear I'm totally the wrong body type.