Flying the Solo Flag – With a Few Caveats

In the past seven days, I’ve done some solo nordic walking…and some winter hiking with a friend.  I’ve done yoga in my house (solo) and some serious core training (again, solo, in front of my TV).  Normally, I don’t think twice about whether being active is easier alone – or with peeps – but this weekend, I started thinking about it a bit more.

See, I had the awesome opportunity to be on the ChicagoNow Radio show on WGN 720 (AM) here in Chicago.  The show highlights some of the blogs that are operating on Chicago Now and as a new poster there, I had the chance to sit down with host Bill Leff (who is, frankly, AWESOME) and to chat about the unique issues that Plus sized athletes face.  (If you’re dying to hear our conversation, grab a seat and listen in – it was 30 minutes of fun for me, but maybe that’s just me..)

Anyway, Bill was an excellent host, and had prepared a variety of questions, one of which focused on the kinds of sports I tend to play – and what I really enjoy doing as a plus sized athlete.  He noted that a lot of what I do, I do solo – and wondered if there was a reason for that.

It got me thinking: why DO I spend so much of my time in solo pursuits?  And, DO I really focus on the solos? 

My response to him was that maybe, as I’ve gotten older, like many of you, I’ve shied away from rough and tumble team sports (also, because I am a certified Klutz with a capital K, I am avoiding injury that way).  I don’t play Floor Hockey, or Softball, or even much pickup football anymore, in part because I’m not sure I could NOT get injured.  But realistically, it’s about more than that – I also don’t want to hold the team back.  I don’t think, right now, I could run two lengths of a high-school gym floor to play floor hockey at the level I’d like to.  So what does that say about us, the Plus Athletes and Runners out there?  Are we limited to just solo sports?

My answer is no.  I think that there are certain sports you can play or cross-training you can engage in that are not purely solitary pursuits.  God knows we’ve seen enough big men play softball over the years, that I don’t think there’s a weight limit on the average 16″ team in Chicago.  But realistically, if you can’t run quickly are you going to sign up? Probably not.  What about football?  We frequently see the offensive line filled with big guys, but can you go out and play on a Sunday in your average pickup game?  Yeah, I think you probably can – you just need to have enough awareness to know it’s going to hurt a bit the next day, and that long routes may not be for you…

And what about sports like soccer and floor hockey?  Is there a place for bigger athletes? Yes, I think there is.  I played both floor hockey and soccer at 200 pounds and over, and though I wasn’t the fastest member of my team, I DID have great field sense, solid technical skills, and I knew how to play the game – which could not always be said for my thinner compatriots.

The other bit of info that I have to consider here is that even though I take part in a lot of solo sports – kayaking, hiking, running, cycling, triathlon – I do most of those activities with others.  More than many, many, women, I’ve learned to also enjoy my own company over the years, and I don’t wait for someone to tell me that they want me to go out and do any of these things, so yes, I also do them solo.  But I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with good friends who also like to be active – and when I need a buddy to partake in any of the “solo endeavors” as company, I can usually find one.

So perhaps that’s my real answer to Bill, and to those of you who wonder if you’re destined for a life of solo sporting.  Look around and examine your group of friends, and then look in the mirror.  Do you enjoy your own company enough to jump on a bike and ride for 20 miles?  Or are you always going to be looking for a group?  If so, find a group that works for you, in your community – or better yet, start your own.  Whatever your personality – solo or team – until you really start looking for an answer that fits your life, you’ll probably not move nearly as much as you’d like.

So go on, get moving 🙂

See you on the path!

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