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Bruce Runnels – Cycling for health, fitness, and enjoyment

by Don

The following is a brief profile of one of the interviewees in the upcoming book, Dream It, Live It, Love It. The full interview and insights gained by the author will be shared in the book to be published at a future date. To see future interviewee profiles via email and to stay updated on the status of the book, use the widget at www.50athletesover50.com to subscribe.

Bruce Runnels is a 60 year old cyclist from Fort Collins, Colorado who has a background in law, and who currently is an executive for The Nature Conservancy. Bruce played basketball in high school and ran cross-country in college. During those years, Bruce also competed in canoe racing at state and national levels. After college, Bruce ran road races and was considering doing a marathon when his active life was changed by a serious car accident. In the accident, Bruce’s knee was badly hurt, making running very difficult. Bruce discovered cycling, and enjoyed it for a number of years. Over time, work and family responsibilities left Bruce’s bike in the garage for a few years until he realized that he had gained weight and needed to improve his level of fitness. Bruce dusted off the bike, and went at it even more seriously than when he rode previously. Bruce now trains and competes in cycling, and loves it. He appreciates cycling because with his knee injury, it is just about the only sport he can participate in, and it keeps him fit and healthy.

  I’m more and more convinced that the key to a continued active life is having an acvtivity you love to do. Gary Grobman, who was featured in an earlier post, passed along to me an article from authors at McMaster University and the University of Windsor, entitled,  Masters Athletes’ Motivation to Train and Compete: First Order Themes. This article examines the motivation of Masters athletes through interviews. What they found is that at the top of the list of motivators, is the love of the sport (51%). Next down on the list are health benefits, opportunity to compete, and feeling of accomplishment.

Recently, I asked the athletes I’ve interviewed why they love their sport or physical activity. I distilled there responses down to 14 fundamental categories. The following is what the 23 respondents said.

39% sited competition as a reason they love their sport

35% sited the physical sensation of their activity

30% sited the physical challenge

26% sited the physical benefits

26% sited the enjoyment they get from the ride or beauty of the ride

21% sited the mental challenge

17% sited feeling of accomplishment, peacfulness, social aspects, feeling of freedom

13% or less sited feeling of lightness, rythm, endorphin rush, simplicity of their activity

I will be digging deeper into this, but at first glance I wonder if the items at the top of the list are there because one can get the items at the bottom of the list in other ways besides physical activity? The act of pitting your mind and body in competition against others, whether directly (head to head competition) or indirectly (against a clock, a distance, an obstacle, a climbing grade), is very special indeed. The feelings you experience during challenging physical activity that you like is also very special. I’m sure there are some physiological responses that play a major role in this, and I’ll be doing some research on this and sharing what I find. Stay tuned!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Charles R Hoskins March 18, 2010 at 10:52 am

Hi Bruce,
Did you happen to go to HS at Darlington, IN?
Charlie Hoskins

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