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Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports? (2017) (outsideonline.com)
189 points by shrikant 48 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 356 comments

The title should be "Why are the people who love endurance sports rich?"

There's no evidence presented that a majority or even a significant percentage of people who are rich love endurance sports, only that most of the people who love endurance sports are rich. Is there a name for this sort of statistical error? Because it's everywhere.

Let's pretend there's 10,000,000 "rich people" and 100,000 "people who love endurance sports". Easily 100% of the people who love endurance sports could be rich while it's still an insignificant percentage of rich people as a whole.

I'm going to guess that the majority of people who are competitive at any hobby are pretty well off, simply because people who are poor do not have the time or resources to practice enough to become competitive at leisure activities.

Michael Crichton calls these "wet streets cause rain" stories in his piece "Why Speculate." http://larvatus.com/michael-crichton-why-speculate/

From his article:

Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

I remember when I started noticing that the occasional time a newspaper wrote about something I knew something about, they usually got some vital details wrong, that really undermined my trust in that newspaper. I've got a better newspaper now, but that first one is generally regarded as a pretty decent one. But when they always get the details about stuff I know wrong, how well can I trust the articles about things I don't know?

Of course it's also possible I only remember the times they get it wrong, and I don't notice the many times they get it right when writing about something I know something about, leading me to underestimate the paper's accuracy.

I'm sure somebody somewhere is willing to make up a name for that effect too.

Perhaps Gell-Mann moved from a paper that was bad at writing about physics but good at writing about Palestine, to a paper that was good at writing about physics but bad at writing about Palestine. This kind of transition seems like it might help maintain a filter bubble.

This is certainly a risk, but unfortunately we can extend the argument to suggest that you can't ever trust any source. Say Gell-Mann wants to find a paper he can trust on Palestine. He's good at physics, and checks reporters covering both topics.

A reporter might be good or bad at covering each topic, which leaves us four cases to consider. If they're bad at physics, they could be a specialist in Palestine, but they could also be generally incompetent; Gell-Mann has no way to tell. If they're good at physics, they could just be talented reporters, but they could also be physics specialists who don't know Palestine any better than Gell-Mann does. And once again, he has no way to tell.

Even probabilistically, we could argue for either approach. Most people aren't experts in more than one thing, and it's easier for an expert than a random fool to garner attention for a baseless claim, so perhaps we should especially distrust good physics writers on Palestine. But incompetence is broadly correlated, and journalism skills apply to both topics, so perhaps we should view bad physics writing as a sign of weak fundamentals and distrust it everywhere.

(I'm talking about reporters instead of papers, but we can push the argument back a level easily; editors have to hire reporters for fields they don't know.)

Going alone, all I can see to do is to look for people who claim to specialize in a few things, one of which you know well, and trust them on their other specialties. As a society, we can perhaps do better by asking a bunch of experts who's competent in their domain and looking for alignment - provided we can all correctly agree on some experts in advance.

edit: a bit of searching suggests this is basically Berkson's Paradox. If we (boldly) assume that news sources which are bad on all topics don't circulate, then quality in one area lowers the expectation of quality in other areas.

Although there is another interpretation (especially in traditional newspapers): you aren’t just evaluating the the individual journalist, you’re evaluating the editorial staff. They are responsible for finding a physics expert to write about physics and a Palestine expert to write about Palestine.

If they do a poor job of selecting a physics expert, then it seems likely that they will do a poor job of selecting other kinds of experts as well.

Hm, lots of options going - negativity bias (bad stuff is more memorable), conservatism bias (low-frequency events are overestimated), availability heuristic (memorable events like misrepresentations are overstated).

Honestly though, I'm not sure I'd call it a bias in your observation so much as a sensible assessment of sources. A source that's right about 90% of topics is still misleading you quite often. And even worse, a source that's 90% accurate about each topic can leave you almost totally ignorant; there are a lot of stories where the entire message can be destroyed by any one of numerous errors.

(And of course, there's a pithy name for that too. "O-ring theory", after the Challenger shuttle disaster, describes phenomena where everything has to go right, so the failure chance at each step is multiplicative.)

I think that's just confirmation bias working in tandem with the amnesia effect described, but certainly it is a valid point. To me, the hardest part about this problem is that trust tends to be stored (at least in my brain) as a binary yes or no, though possibly with a fuzzy border and some room in the middle. It's tough for me to read something and internally modify my trust of the source by a proportional amount for getting things "right" that I "know" when even what I know is uncertain because I could be wrong.

The end effect is that I tend to double check just about any source, but I still have a handful of sources that I have strong reason to believe their motives are compromised on various topics where I expect their motive to conflict with the motive to tell the truth. It's still not great though because sources rarely move up in this system and frequently move down, which leads in a general inability to find information considered trustworthy. This works fine on things where there is a general consensus because I'll be able to find a varied set of sources saying the same thing, but not so great on hotly debated topics with lots of nuance. Also sometimes my brain is lazy and I don't do any of this processing because I'm an imperfect human.

I think this statistical error is called confusion of the inverse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confusion_of_the_inverse

Confusion of the inverse is the assumption that the probability of A given B is equal to the probability of B given A. In symbols, the fallacy is falsely assuming P(A|B) = P(B|A). You have to use Bayes' Theorem to convert from a conditional probability to its inverse:

P(B|A)⋅P(A) = P(A|B)⋅P(B)

This type of faulty reasoning also frequently takes the form of affirming the consequent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent


It happens often when people have a limited consideration set of possible causes, often due to a natural degree of ignorance or lack of experience relating to the subject matter area, e.g., a small child sees a wet sidewalk and assumes it rained, because they aren't yet aware of sprinklers (or garden hoses, etc.)

(If rain→wet sidewalk, wet sidewalk)→rain

The title alone might be clumsily restated as:

(If amateur endurance athlete→rich, rich)→amateur endurance athlete

Sticking my frequentist nose in here, this is maybe better described as the Base Rate Fallacy: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_rate_fallacy

Nice, thanks! Though that page mentions and uses Bayes' Theorem a lot ;)

Thank you! I knew it had to do with Bayes' theorem. So much confusion in the world seems to come from the fact that people don't understand conditional probability.

The error has a name! I never knew! I just tell my students "you can't flip conditional probabilities like that."

My favorite professor used to describe this statistical error as a major cause behind racism.

E.g. it may be true that most criminals in an area are of a certain race; that says nothing about the probability of a single person of that race being a criminal. Same with Islamaphobia–even if most acts of terrorism were performed by Muslims (which isn’t even true!), that’d say nothing about the likelihood that a randomly chosen Muslim person you meet is a terrorist.

Edit: changed likelihood to probability

I am interested in the stats error here. If there are 100 balls in a bag, 10 of each rainbow color and 30 blank, and I tell you 3 of the green balls have property X, while 10 total of the balls in the bag have property X.

You blindly draw a ball from the bag; do you know anything about the likelihood of that ball having property X? You now inspect it and find it’s green. Do you now know anything different about that likelihood? If I offered you “pay $100 to win $900 if you drew a property X ball, with the option to double your wager after seeing the color”, you would be happy indeed to see that you’d drawn a green ball and would double your wager.

Regardless of the colors, ratios, and desirability of property X, it seems to me like you do know something new about the likelihood after learning the color.

It also seems to hold if there are 300 million balls, 10 balls with property X, and 3 of those are green, just at a strong cause to believe “this specific ball does not have property X” overall (such as the case in the people examples you gave).

I'm sure there is a better term for it, but its a kind of unwarranted generalization, with respect to population sizes, e.g.:

    - Nearly all murderers are men. 
    - Bob is a man.
    - Therefore Bob is probably a murderer.
There's obviously a problem there. The population of murderers is an infinitesimal fraction of the male population. While you can say its more likely that any given male is a murderer, than any given female, its not really useful for making judgements about individuals.

Sure, but that's just a logic error. If you switch it around so we know that Bob is a murderer, then we can say that he's probably a man (and that's actually right).

> - Therefore Bob is probably a murderer.

You are mixing logic and probability.

"its not really useful for making judgements about individuals." is not equal to "tells you nothing"

The related mistake here is to jump from "not really useful for making judgements about individuals" to "not useful for making judgements about averages". Sometimes you are trying to predict about an individual. Sometimes you are trying to predict a population average.

Sticking with medical examples, the first matters for "does this guy have this disease?" The second matters for "how many doses should we order?"

Or, more controversially, "how many of the doctors we train today will still be working in 30 years?" Which came up as a question regarding the increasing proportion of women in medical school. And many people were loudly offended that this might be something to take into consideration. Because they read it as the first kind of question, "will this individual...". But that's different.

That error can creep in to diagnostics though. You can be at a 5 times increased risk for a very rare disease and it’s still overwhelmingly unlikely you have the disease.

Sometimes testing positive on a fairly accurate test for a very rare condition means you are still more likely to not have the condition, and even Doctors sometimes screw that logic up.

No, that's the first error. The usual base rate problem. I agree that it's a common mistake, but it's not the one I was trying to point out.

Knowing that this very rare disease affects 1 in 10_000 men, and 1 in 100_000 women, doesn't tell you that much about how to perform diagnosis on any one individual. But it does tell you accurately that the male ward probably needs 10x as many beds as the female ward.

No. Not what I was saying ... in my example the male ward needs no more beds than the female ward because the disease is ridiculously rare. I think we are inadvertently talking past each other.

Statistics are hard. At least for me.

Edit: also I wasn’t trying to respond directly/refute your comment. Just chiming in with a related concept.

OK maybe the beds is a bad example (maybe most of their occupants would be under observation... or there would be less than 1 per hospital). Let's say it's 90% fatal, and an outbreak occurs in a country where men are always buried in black coffins, and women in white.

Then we know what mix of coffins to load on the UN plane. But as a doctor on the ground, after your 99% accurate test comes back, you certainly need more information, and knowing the sex of the patient is not much help. The doctor, and the guy loading the plane, are asking very different questions.

Yeah it certainly still tells you something, but most people's intuitions about probability mislead them about the amount of information contained. Its like how people can be lead to believe they have a very rare disease if they test positive for it. Just because most people who have the disease test positive for it doesn't mean you can just ignore the prior probability that the disease is extremely rare in the first place, so you still likely don't have it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_rate_fallacy

Thats the prototypical example used in all bayes theorem explantions :D.

>Regardless of the colors, ratios, and desirability of property X, it seems to me like you do know something new about the likelihood after learning the color.

Only if you're given the marginal probability ahead of time ;-). Marginals are usually intractable to compute, and people tend to vastly underestimate them. Priors have a similar issue: base rates for a lot of "interesting" conclusions are often really, really low (which is, in a way, why we'd be interested in estimating the posterior!).

Let's estimate the most controversial thing possible: P(criminal | black guy) = p(black guy | criminal) * p(criminal) / p(black guy).

Problem is, the prior (in all the cases I've checked) is lot smaller than the marginal (there's usually at least two orders of magnitude difference!), so even a seemingly high likelihood "washes out" in the posterior.

In your examples, the probability of a random green ball having property X is always higher than that of a random ball. If the incidence of X in the green population is higher than the base rate, then if a random ball is green, it means it is more likely to be X.

I think you meant probability instead of likelihood. That is: it may be true that most criminals in an area are of a certain race; that says nothing about the probability of a single person of that race being a criminal because you'd need to know about the prevalence of crime.

(In statistics, the likelihood is the probability of the data conditional on the hypothesis, so in this case the probability of being of a certain race given that one is a criminal.)

Thanks! I’m pretty ignorant on the specific terminology behind statistics, and realize how important it is to be accurate in this case.

I don't get it. Why not?

Well, because it does.

Let's say we have a group of 1000 animals: 900 rabbits and 100 foxes.

We also know that there are about 10 crimes happening every year and for every crime there's 50% chance of it being committed by a fox.

Then according to Bayes' formula:

P(fox is a criminal) = P(criminal is a fox) * P(animal is a criminal) / P(animal is a fox) = 0.5 * 0.01/0.1 = 0.05 = 5% chance for every given fox to be a criminal.

For every given rabbit the same formula gives 0.5 * 0.01/0.9 which is roughly 0.6%.


Not every animal in Australia is a kangaroo.

Nevertheless, if you want to find a kangaroo in a wild, heading to Australia, would probably be your best bet.

Sure, but if you're looking for kangaroos because of an incorrect belief that they're mostly responsible for something, and it's actually perpetrated more by mountain lions, you might actually be on the wrong continent.

Incels have killed more people than Islamic extremists in the US in the last decade.

Re the systematic racist bias in 4. - since you postulate a world in which 100% of terrorists are muslims, why would anyone non-muslim ever be investigated for terrorism? (whether with 'gusto' or not)

Because point 4 is about non-terrorist charges. Pretty much what we find with the black population being biased with charges of drug possession. If searches are applied to blacks 10x as often relative to whites, then if neither is more likely to possess marijuana you'll come up with statistics which say 10x as many blacks illegally possess marijuana than whites. When instead one needs to say what percentage of those searched are in possession

> if neither is more likely to possess marijuana

Research says drug usage rate is similar for black and white people in the US, but prosecution and conviction rates are not[1]

1. http://www.hamiltonproject.org/charts/rates_of_drug_use_and_...

No, point 4 was about the fact that somehow it is racist to prosecute people of type X for crimes they commit if those crimes are discovered because of an investigation into a different type of crime (which only type X people commit) - the alternative being to give them a free pass, I assume? The premise doesn't hold water anyway, since even in this hypothetical world where only type X are terrorists, I assume terrorism is still a rare event? So, the extra crimes discovered in the course of terrorism investigations into type X suspects will be dwarfed by the investigations into normal crimes in the whole population during the course of normal every day police work.

// Assuming the police are not incompetent, of course, which may not hold in your hypothetical world where they investigate non type X people for terrorism even though they commit zero percent of terrorist attacks - probably out of some misguided diversity quota or affirmative action policy, I assume? ;)

This is conflating an ideology with an intrinsic quality, doesn't this imply your projected irrational bias?

> In order to find 0.001% of terrorists you will have to pick through 999 innocent muslims.

99,999, not 999 innocents and 1:100,000, not 1:1000 (making your point stronger)

> that’d say nothing about the likelihood

> There's a 0.001% chance of finding a terrorist per random sampling.

That’s what I believed. Until my daughter got raped.

As someone who has also lived through that nightmare - I'm deeply sorry for your daughter.

However, you have to remember that this is an anecdote - you don't want to throw people into boxes they don't fit.

I’m sorry to hear about your daughter. But don’t let an anecdote change your mind about the field of statistics.

Which goes to show how terrible people are at dealing rationally with anything when they are affected personally or emotionally.

> it may be true that most criminals in an area are of a certain race; that says nothing about the likelihood of a single person of that race being a criminal

Huh? If 10% of purple people in an area have been incarcerated, and you select one individual from the purple people population of that area at random, the odds are 10% the individual you selected will have been incarcerated. That's fundamental to how sampling works.

The situation isn’t that 10% of purple have been incarcerated; if it was, you’d be correct.

Instead, the situation is that 90% of those incarcerated are purple. You can’t draw any meaningful conclusions from that without knowing the number that you were referring to: what percentage of purple people that makes up.

You are flipping around the percentages. Parent says "10% of incarcerated people are purple". This does not imply that "10% of purple people are incarcerated".

Except that's not what happens.


The logic is fine, it's just not an analogous example.

Random sampling doesn't work well with small sample sizes.

That's funny, because the URL slug (why-are-most-endurance-athletes-rich) for the article literally is that headline. I think the authors probably intentionally chose that headline because it's more clickbaity. Given the less clickbaity title is in the URL, mods, how about updating the headline to "Why Are Most Endurance Athletes Rich"?

Authors generally don't choose the final headline for online articles. It's the editor who does that. Sites can show multiple headlines for the same article and settle for the one that gets most clicks. The url of the article can sometimes reveal the original headline authors gave.

It's basic modern media literacy to ignore the headline of the article.

Maybe the title should be: "Why is there a positive correlation between endurance sports and wealth?"

Cause, you know, correlation and causation and all that.

Endurance sports, by its very definition, implies the availability of time. You can't be an Ironman competitor if you don't have hours to train every day.

David Goggins and Scott Jurek were definitly not rich when then won their first important ultras. And according to their bio (didn't fact check it though), they trained AND had a job, which means either waking up very early, or going to bed very late.

I'd rather think that if you can run a 100K, you have the mind to overcome amazingly hard situations, and to keep trying, again and again, being in the game for a long time. Which increases your odds of success, so bigger probability to get rich in the end.

I know several ultra runners who are definitely not rich. If anything, they ought to spend their money more wisely and not on more and more gear.

I'd agree with this, but I don't even think it has to be that extreme. An endurance sport requires patience and overcoming a certain level of discomfort in pursuit of a goal.

I know people who stop pursuing whatever it is they want at the first signs of discomfort or adversity. They want the good things to just happen them, and they rarely do.

That's funny, I know people who pursue the path of least resistance and are quite well off actually, and good things do just happen to them (by virtue of their talent lets say, or other innate qualities). But that's just my own anecdata.

I do know some people like what you're talking about too, but then again I know some people who are big into endurance sports but aren't really go-getters in other spheres either ...

> I know some people who are big into endurance sports but aren't really go-getters in other spheres

Same. Although I suspect for a lot of them it's because go-getting in other spheres would impact on their ability to do the running and they're happy in their situations as they are.

David Goggins was (is) a Navy Seal, so he had a strong baseline/foundation.

Many, many years ago, I ran a fifty-miler. I was not, by US standards anything like rich, in fact I was in between two ill-paid jobs.

My running commitment amounted to something less than ten hours per week. Now according to Wikipedia, the American average for TV watching in 2017 was about 28 hours/week. I have no idea what it was in 1982, but at even half the rate, I spent less time running than my average fellow citizen spent in front of the tube.

>I spent less time running than my average fellow citizen spent in front of the tube

Time watching TV is not time spent sitting "in front of the tube". People cook, eat, clean the dishes, iron clothes, play with their kids, while the TV is on. If you are running, you can't be doing anything else.

Yes and no. People can cook, etc. while the TV is on. They certainly get in some time just plain watching.

Also, some of my running time amounted to commuting: knock 45 minutes off the 90 minute run. Running can be a social activity. Those who care to can run listening to their iPods (then, Walkmans). Etc.

Unless you're on a treadmill in front of a TV, or wearing headphones listening to the radio, TV, podcasts, etc.

I dont have cable at home, so the only time I watch broadcast TV is when i'm watching it on the TV at the gym while running.

Now imagine coming home from a day of hard physical labor on a roadwork crew when it's hot as hadeys outside and then consider how much you may feel like spending your free time running.

Not being rich isn't the same thing as being poor, or being blue collar. Most of us being knowledge workers, have advantages beyond earning power.

Nit (with sincere hope that you'll appreciate rather than feel picked upon):

Hades, not hadeys.

I don't know if its true that the median wealthy person has more leisure time available to them.

> According to the Census Bureau, the average wealthy household (defined by the IRS as the top 20% of income earners in the US) worked five times as many hours as the average poor household. The cause? Single-parent households and high unemployment among poor households. [0]

Although I imagine they may spend less time doing household chores or running errands

[0] https://www.businessinsider.com/common-myths-about-rich-peop...

Counting work hours by household seems a bit weird.

I'm married, my wife and I work fairly typical 40-45 hour weeks. So, 80-90 for the household.

My son is single. He works the same 40-45 hours. But, by the metric above, my household works twice as much. Sure, we literally do, but we have twice the manpower and twice the income. And still have the same amount of leisure time per person.

Indeed it's an odd measure. But still, a factor 5? It can't be common for top-20% households to contain more than two full-time workers.

In a sibling comment, somebody linked to an article [0] that describes the wealth/free-time paradox. Basically, poor people are extremely underemployed (particularly young white males) and frequently stuck in part-time jobs (or unemployed completely). If a poor person is only able to find 10 hours/week employment, I'm at 4x that. If the poor person is single, my household is 8x because there's two of us.

0 - https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/09/the-fre...

This.In ancient times rich people were pale and that suggested they didn't have to work. Poor people had tan. It's the same now - If you've got time you can train and have photos of you running marathons in different places in the world each month.

But rich people have less time because time is more valuable to them.

I'd say that rich people time is more "stretchable"

Time is a fixed quantity for poorer people. If you don't show up to your 8AM Walmart job on time, you'll get chewed out.

But if you're a senior VP, you can move meetings around to fit your schedule.

Not sure I follow.

First, the article doesn't appear to talking about actual rich people (billionaires, etc) but upper-middle-class white-collar people (i.e., they still have a day job and can't live off savings & interest). But, we can call them rich to keep it easy.

In a literal sense, rich people have more time, as they tend to live longer than poor people.

In the sense of day-to-day free time, I'd argue rich people have more. Both in absolute terms - they rarely have to work two jobs, though they might do occasional OT. And in their ability to time-shift work obligations. Take a software dev - typically they have flexible work hours, might have some ability to schedule their own meetings, and nobody blinks if they duck out early once a week for a long run/ride/whatever.

I'd say they have the same amount of time, the difference is how they choose to use it. Going away for a weekend is great use of their time if they enjoy it and also get a benefit (both physically and mentally) out of it. Doing the sport is valuable to them.

Isn't that debatable? Actually, it's debatable what your statement means. What's value? How much you make per time unit? Or, if you live pay check to pay check, maybe time is more valuable than when you're rich, because if you don't invest that time unit, you won't be able to pay rent?

It's pretty well studied that poor people in the US have more free time/leisure time than rich people. Ex:


Related: Why Rich People work more hours... https://blogs.harvard.edu/michaellaw/2014/04/18/why-rich-peo...

Rich people can trade money for time, example: flying private.

And they trade money for time because their time is more valuable..

This article for me seemed to miss the obvious point of endurance sport as status display. This also highlights the limit of the research methodology, because very few people will acknowledge that they participate in these events to display evolutionary fitness, or are even aware of this compulsion. So what you may have in these results is some confounding of drivers: people more inclined to display status want both to earn more money, and look fitter to display evolutionary status. The phenomenon described in the article could be correlation not causation, and I’m a little surprised this was not investigated.

>only that most of the people who love endurance sports are rich

That sounds totally compatible with the article being titled "Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports?".

It doesn't have to be most or all of rich liking endurance sports. It's enough that endurance sports are mostly liked by the rich.

The article is not titled "Why do MOST/ALL rich people love endurance sports".

In other words, X doesn't need to be a characteristic of most rich to ask "why are rich drawn to X" -- it just has to draw more rich than non-rich.

If being rich is simply a requirement to participate in the activity, but most people rich people don't engage in it then it really doesn't tell you anything about "rich people" as a group. If 99% of rich people don't participate in endurance sports, then it is not a characteristic of rich people in any meaningful sense.

You might as well ask "Why do rich people love helicopter skiing?" I'm sure everyone that does that is pretty rich, but probably most rich people don't do it. I'm sure there's a ton of not-rich people who would also enjoy it, but they simply can't afford to do it.

>If 99% of rich people don't participate in endurance sports, then it is not a characteristic of rich people in any meaningful sense.

That doesn't follow. If 1% of rich people do X, and only 0.0001% of non-rich do it, then X is very much a trait of rich people. It's not of most/all rich people, but it is predominantly of rich people.

Personally, I wouldn't consider anything that only applies to a tiny percentage of a group to be a trait of that group. You could say that being rich is a trait of people who participate in endurance sports, but not vice versa.

It reminds me of a funny argument I had a while back. My then girlfriend old apartment had cast iron plumbing and a joint in one of the pipe had a very small leak that smelled pretty bad. One night, at a family gathering of her, someone said that "it leaks because it smells"; which made me laugh obviously. I thought it was a slip of the tongue and said "yeah, it smells 'cause it leaks" and they started arguing that "it means the same thing"... To this day, I still can't understand how someone can believe that "it smells because it leaks" means the same thing as "it leaks because it smells".

Generally you're using language "correctly" when the vast majority of people understand what you were trying to communicate.

In that way and in that context it's a "passable" statement.

Don't view everyday life and sentences through the narrow lens of mathematics/logic. If you're lucky that'll make for some dinner conversation, if you're unlucky you'll just be annoying.

"I know this must be leaking because it smells." is fine in an everyday context, even if not strictly and always true.

It wasn't meant in the sense of "I know it leaks because of the smell", it was literally said as "The leakage is caused by the smell". The conversation was in French so I have to translate here :D. I wasn't trying to be an ass at the time, I was just... surprised at their twisted understanding of basic logic.

I am terrible at formal statistics so maybe I’m wrong, but I think you are taking issue with the wording of the headline rather than a statistical fallacy.

If I wrote “why are wealthy people over represented in endurance sports” would you be ok with it?

If say ... 1% of the population is wealthy but 20% of participants in marathons are ... that would be potentially of statistical interest, no?

Also, people in sedentary (white collar) jobs have more need of exercise. If you work on the land all day, maybe you prefer to sit down after work, instead of getting more exercise.

Although farmers do seem to be overrepresented in marathon skating.

I think the title is fine as is. I know plenty of rich people, and I know plenty of people into endurance sports.

The % of rich people who enjoy endurance sports tends to be pretty high. The % of people in endurance sports that are rich tends to be pretty low, triathletes excluded because triathlons are #$#@$ expensive and so that population is cash-gated.

Agreed. And they don't even consider the other angle, which is do rich people love endurance sports more than other sports? That is, of the rich people who participate in sports, how many are in endurance sports versus those in other sports?

True. I used to race cars. The same logic applies there - you have to have money and free weekends to race cars. Even better if you have flexible work hours so you can practice on Fridays (before weekend events) and fix the car in the evenings (because they break, wear out, and get crashed).

I've heard it called base rate neglect.

your title is more eye-catching in addition to more accurate.

> Is there a name for this sort of statistical error? Because it's everywhere.

Yes. It's called not understanding Bayes' theorem. Bayes' theorem is precisely about how the probability of "B, given A" (P[B|A]) relates to the probability of "A, given B" (P[A|B]). In our case, that would be "rich, given love for endurance sports" =/= "love for endurance sports, given rich". It is immediately obvious from Bayes' equation that the two are, in general, not the same.

My first thought on reading the title, and not dispelled by reading the article, was "poverty is an endurance sport you're not allowed to quit".

There are extreme examples like https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jan/07/need-to-sign... , but of course we've all heard of the conditions in Amazon warehouses.

Less extreme examples which are "just working class / not rich" are all the retail jobs which involve standing most of the day, shelf-stacking, anything in hospitality, anything in construction, and so on.

I worked construction one summer during college and my running habit died very quickly after starting that job. Getting paid to work out isn't too bad of a deal, but it is nice to be able to make a choice on the matter.

I would propose a different hypothesis: Rich people love endurance sports because it is easy to get better at them.

Let me explain: If I am 30 made a big exit and now need a new hobby it is pretty easy to make steady progress in marathon running. I will probably not become a world-class marathon runner, but top 100 of a big event is in my reach. Still hard but possible.

If start with basketball, soccer or track and field I will probably not be competitive on a local level. Every sport with difficult techniques will be very much harder to learn.

endurance is also more trainable than short term power. So one will get more from being persistent for years at marathon running than they would at the 100 yard dash.

Also, you lose endurance ability slower as you age than short term power. So you can still be pretty good at marathon in your 50s, while you would be useless at the 100 yard dash or hitting home runs.

> So one will get more from being persistent for years at marathon running than they would at the 100 yard dash

Need a source on this.

> So you can still be pretty good at marathon in your 50s, while you would be useless at the 100 yard dash or hitting home runs.

But not relative to your peers, which is what everyone compares to unless you're top 3 overall in any given race.

I have a gut feeling, the next fitness trend will be running faster vs running farther.

Off the top of my head from exercise and physiology 101 - everyone without a mitochondria disorder and other disabilities simply gets better at endurance sports to the limit of their ability, resistance to injury at the particular sport and time invested - which can take years. The limit on ability for short term power to weight (sprinting) is much easier to reach because most people do not have that much sprint ability, there's a component that can be attributed to genetics for any ability but the human body is generally made for endurance sports and getting better at it (the adaptations such as increased blood plasma, better ability to utilize O2, increased mitochondrial density, increased capillary density, heart stroke volume, etc) and only some of us are cut out to really excel for sprinting events (there are some adaptations for sprint that work against endurance and vice versa ala muscle adaptation, also the main energy pathway for sprinting is anaerobic which can be trained but it's much quicker to find your personal limits at a particular sport ).

Peak sprint performance is in one's twenties, peak marathon performance is on one's thirties. Source: Usain Bolt and Elioud Kipchoge. You can find tons of finish times with age for running events online to show how the degradation in performance falls slowly with age for marathon times. It's actually hard to find information on sprint times for older competitors because the participation rate is much lower. There is a significant body of research that indicates humans have significant advantages for endurance performance versus other mammals. Born to Run is the classic popular book about the subject and has references to the primary sources.

> endurance is also more trainable than short term power

Is that not something that varies per person? I've always been terrible at endurance but decent at short term power, and now that I'm training a bit, it seems I'm mostly getting more power, but not really more endurance. Not for horrible things like running, at least.

How are you training? many weight training exercises (especially low rep high weight) and short cardio exercises won't give you better endurance, they'll get you faster and stronger.

I started crossfit a couple of months ago. It's a wide variety of weight, cardio and other exercises. One time the warming up started with a 3 km run, and that's just pointless to even try for me. I'm better with the exercise bikes, but anything that involves running or jumping will wreck me before I get anywhere.

I have been running for a long time, but it had always about 3 mile lengths, and never super long distances until 2 years ago. >6 miles was almost impossible. the key for me to run longer was to run my limit, hit the wall and keep going, and after a run a week for months, then I'm doing 8 mile runs, 10 mile runs, 20 mile runs. eventually, I hit a second wall: boredom. I don't think that super high endurance is very rewarding, at least not for me, and to get better at it requires a lot of pain, and even potential for injury (and then you can't train and you go back a few months). I also think the health rewards of runs reach an inflection point around 5km, especially after factoring risk of injury. if you can't do a 3km run, run 1, or 2. then wait ~48-72 hours, and run 2 again. eventually, you'll be able to run 3, I guarantee it. but what is a lot less certain is whether you'll enjoy it and feel rewarded. I've found the more endurance based an activity, the more mental it becomes, just as original comment was getting at. for some people, thats good because its the only way they can be competitive. for others who have more athletic talent, it may be frustrating because it takes more effort than most other exercise.

> eventually, I hit a second wall: boredom

I hit that wall right away. There are few exercises I find more boring than running. I did run with a couple of friends for a short period, because I felt I didn't see them nearly enough, and this was a nice way to see them more often and get some exercise at the same time. I hope that meeting my friends would make me more motivated. We still couldn't keep it up.

The only time when I can really run is when I think an emergency might be threatening my youngest kid. I think I could beat Usain Bolt in that situation. It's definitely mental.

I've been bad with endurance my whole life until I did the Couch-to-5k training program. Doing a 1-mile run in school was always a nightmare for me. It's a fantastic 8 week training program that alternates between run days and rest days. It starts off with run 1min, walk 2min, run 1min, walk 2min until 30min. Then it progressively gets to longer running components. I was blown away by the human body's ability adapt to stresses of running. The first week I was dying just from running 1min, walk 2min. Then mid way through, running 10min, walking 1min became a piece of cake. I heartily recommend it if you're trying to get into cardio.

Sounds good. I think my wife may have done something like that a couple of years ago. Sadly, she quit. But before she quit, she definitely noticed significant progress.

On the topic of physiological differences between endurance and power sports, I hear endurance activities give you a natural dose of feel-good hormones. Does anyone have any comments on that?

Yes, there is definitely a runner's high from endorphin release, and the whole process is somewhat meditative in its physicality.

I started table tennis at 32. I get whooped by 10 year olds regularly.

In running you compete against the yesterday's version of yourself and if you finish even 10 seconds faster you win. Feels good. In basketball you compete against players that are probably much better than you and you will rarely sniff a victory. Feels bad.

I run and bike, and I've wondered about this too. Running seems like it should be the most affordable sport, but in America, at least, runners tend to be affluent. Perhaps wealthy areas are more hospitable to running, but I don't think that explains much.

I remember reading an article in the New Yorker about a retreat where people would go to participate in extended fasts. It struck me you need to come from abundance for the idea of recreational starvation to be appealing, and I think something similar could be said for sports like running, where punishment and self-denial are nearly an aim in themselves.

Another article I'm reminded of is "How the Other Half Lifts"[1]. There the author muses on cultural differences between strength and endurance sports. He suggests that upper middle class Americans favor endurance sports as a way to demonstrate "moral character, self-control, and self-development, rather than physical dominance." (My impression is that weight lifting has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, though.)


I did ponder this for a while and from the possible answers I've got, I believe the best one is that rich people tend to love sports that you can win at without having to compete against anyone.

I think there are two kinds of sports, ones that require you to compete against somebody else to win and ones that allow you to win by simply pushing your limits. You can't win a game of soccer by playing alone, this is the nature of the sport, but you can win a 10k run by simply beating your previous best.

This being said, if you lack the talent or previously acquired skills to be good at a direct competition sport, your best bet for winning, as per above definition, is to pick up an endurance sport.

As weight lifting goes, I know plenty of rich people that do that. Yet they don't tend to do it until they get huge, they do it to be a bit more in shape. Basically, they set their own rule for what winning means and they are crushing it.

> but you can win a 10k run by simply beating your previous best.

I've never heard somebody refer to this as "winning". Beating a PR, sure, but not winning. At least in the triathlon scene, that I'm most familiar with, in order to "win" you have to beat other people.

Well, if you finish, you beat all the people that didn't

Yup! But beating some people isn't what people calling winning. Sometimes I've heard people say they won their age bracket, but even that's always qualified by the scope of their winning and still suggesting that they were at the top of the reduced scope.

Although historically golf was a very popular sport among wealthier people. Which is or can be competitive. Apparently golf has declined a lot as a sport to the point where a fair number of golf courses have closed. And the people who bought houses on those courses are suing.

More anecdotally while I’m sure there are people in tech who golf, it’s pretty much invisible from my perspective—may still see it in sales here and there-/and fun runs (or yoga) are what you see as active conference activities. I could name tons of people who run among my tech contacts. I couldn’t name one who I know golfs.

I think golf is a sport where you can compete against yourself. Anecdotally, my 2 friends that play golf are middle lower class, by no means wealthy.

Obviously, any sport can be played against opponents, but some don't have to. And I believe most wealthy people have to compete against human opponents most of the time and are inclined to pick "easier" to win sports when it comes to doing it for fun.

> rich people tend to love sports that you can win at without having to compete against anyone.

That would explain all the rich skateboarders then :-)

One factor that seems to be under-represented in the comments so far is that less affluent people don't have time to run.

As you probably know, endurance running requires a significant time commitment. Anyone training for a marathon needs to run several hours a week. I suspect that affluent people have more leisure time, and that it can be more conveniently arranged to match a runner's schedule.

It also requires a not-insignificant investment in nutrition. Less affluent people in the US already have trouble eating healthy food--training for a marathon could increase the required food intake by about 30%, which would have a meaningful impact on household budgets.

Finally, blue-collar workers are less likely to have pent-up physical energy. It's likely that they've already spent all day on their feet, and would rather invest their leisure time in a less physically demanding activity. White-collar workers have been sitting in a chair all day, and the ones who don't get into endurance sports (or similar) are likely to become obese.

Obviously, all of the above is based purely on wild conjecture, but it doesn't seem implausible.

It's almost 100% cultural. Distance running is the national obsession of Kenya and Ethiopia, two countries not renowned for their economic prosperity. Here in the UK, distance running is strongly associated with the north-east, an area that has always been strongly working class and has been devastated by post-industrial decline. In much of continental Europe, cycling has a similar image to boxing as a tough sport for working-class men to lift themselves out of poverty.

Running is damned near the cheapest sport you can choose to pursue. You need trainers, a road and plenty of carbs. If you can't afford to run, you probably can't afford to do much of anything. American culture has turned it into a bourgeois pursuit, but that's absolutely not the case in many other countries.

Agree that it's largely cultural, but not sure about cause/effect. I suspect that American culture leaves less uninterrupted chunks of time for lower middle-class and below to go running. Anecdotally I get the sense that Kenyan culture gives ~everyone uninterrupted chunks of time to go running.

Running requires a safe neighborhood. I've lived in enough bad neighborhoods where my wife would never feel safe running in. When we did move to a better neighborhood and saw runners, my wife was surprised. Many poor people do not live in places conducive to running.

That's such a "US only" statement... along most of Europe from Russia to Spain and from Ireland to southern Greece you can run safely almost anywhere as long as you wear mostly cheap-looking clothes (eg. no $100+ shoes, no iphone on arm-band, no apple watch or rolex, no over-colorful clothes that could be mistaken for pro training gear etc.)... As a woman there would be areas to avoid, but by picking to run through more crowded places and at more daily times it can also be safe enough.

I'd bet the same would apply to most US too if you wouldn't purpusefully dress like a "rich runner"... (or go the other extreme and end up looking like a home robber on the run form the police :P).

Running has much lower safety requirements than walking. Runners are generally not compelling robbery targets because they're harder to stop and they carry fewer valuables.

Women running are at risk for sexual assault, but this is less correlated with "bad neighborhoods".

They are apparently great kidnapping targets, though, after reading this article.

> Running requires a safe neighborhood.

Or access to a treadmill.


> Running requires a safe neighborhood.

I (a man) feel uncomfortable walking, let alone running, in any neighborhood, safe or not. A man walking/running in a more upper-middle class neighborhood (or manicured gated community) always attracts attention and someone's bound to call the cops on you "just to be on the safe side" :) Safer to whiz by in your car and lift weights in your garage.

Something's wrong with a society if that is the case. You can't imagine how much this statement shocks me. Not doubting it in any way, just a considerable shock.

This is definitely true. You do not want to be poor and male and running at night when the police come by, or poor and female and running in a truly bad neighborhood. I've spent time in the back of a police cruiser because they thought I was breaking into cars when they saw me jogging at night.

I was interviewed by police because they thought I was trying to steal my own car, as stupid as that may seem, and the only reason for that was because I was wearing a hood at night in a rich neighborhood.

Yeah, same here. I wonder if that's a byproduct of american society where walking anywhere is seen as "weird"?

Like, I can't even fathom a situation where I would be worried about walking somewhere just in case someone calls the police on me. That's crazy.

No. It's a byproduct of a 24hr news cycle and a bunch of rich people who have never actually lived in a rough neighborhood who get spooked at every little thing thinking it might be crime.

What country is that ? As a French person, this is shocking - I can't imagine living in such place.

As long as you're wearing obvious running clothes, this is not an issue anywhere I've been.

Yeah, as someone who has run late at night in cities and towns all over the US, this definitely doesn’t happen in my experience.

I’ve been stopped/checked out by police while walking with friends late at night in small towns, but running (in running clothes) seems to put one beyond suspicion.

I've run in affluent neighborhoods in at least a dozen US cities, walked in too many to bother counting. This isn't something I've experienced anywhere.

I don’t think this is actually true.

Anddddd I don’t want to live in the US even if they do make twice as much money.

I think you have to understand that posts like this reflect the attitude of Americans much more than they reflect the USA itself (I grew up in the UK but live in the USA).

More concretely: are there places in big cities in the USA where you should be very cautious walking around at night? Absolutely. But the exact same thing applies in London and Manchester too. Robbery is an issue there too.

To some extent, people in the USA just make a bigger deal out of it. You'll also find that when Americans discuss travel abroad they're also very worried about safety. IMO it's a cultural mentality more than the specific realities of specific places.

> Running seems like it should be the most affordable sport, but in America, at least, runners tend to be affluent. Perhaps wealthy areas are more hospitable to running, but I don't think that explains much.

Running is the most affordable sport. It requires nothing. So you're correct that pro-running effects in wealthy areas can't explain why runners are affluent; you have to explain it by anti-running effects among poorer people. (Such as "why would I do that?")

To the ancient Greeks, racing was the most prestigious of all sporting events, because it was felt to be the most traditional. If that were still true for us, poor people would probably run a lot more than they do.

Non competitive jogging is something anyone can do for cheap.

The article is about competitive endurance running specifically. Competitive running requires quite a lot of time for training and then regeneration. It is pretty hard on body - meaning time needed for regeneration and healing injuries and also it requires proper food. Meaning, if you work night shifts or lift weight in work you have disadvantage. We can come destroyed into office and take it easy for a day if I trained too much. People who actually compete in those marathons often get sick right after race, which is something a rich person cares about less then poor one.

Add to it network effect and it becomes pretty clear why rich would do it more then poor.

Team ball sports are perceived as a "way out" in low income areas. They've heard stories about someone from the area who made it to the pros. Whereas only a tiny number of athletes make a living from running, and none of them are remotely as well paid or famous as the NBA or NFL stars.

It’s such a horrible thing to emphasize to young people that they can ‘get out’ by being good at a ball sport. I saw it way too frequently growing up where peers were pressed in sports so hard by parents or coaches and education was left as a checkbox. Obviously they didn’t get their ticket out and left high school without a complete education. Such a waste.

> I remember reading an article in the New Yorker about a retreat where people would go to participate in extended fasts. It struck me you need to come from abundance for the idea of recreational starvation to be appealing, and I think something similar could be said for sports like running, where punishment and self-denial are nearly an aim in themselves.

This reminds me of camping which seems to be primarily a first world/affluent pursuit, at least imho.

>>This reminds me of camping which seems to be primarily a first world/affluent pursuit, at least imho.

Really? I see it as the exact opposite based on my experience - people go camping because it's the far cheaper alternative than staying at a hotel. You can get a tent pitch for close to nothing, hand-me-down family tent and suddently staying for 2 weeks with your family on a Croatian coast doesn't seem impossible anymore.

Like, I always said that if I had the money I'd just stay at a hotel, camping is something you do if you're poor. Obviously nowadays that notion has changed for me seeing as you can spend a lot of money on camping equipment(and people still do), but at the end of the day, your super fancy 1000 euro tent is still standing on a 3 euro/day pitch next to a family that brought 3 kids in their 1992 VW Passat and they are holidaying for close to nothing next to you - not that there is anything wrong with that, that's how my childhood holidays looked like.

I could be incorrect but I don't think camping is popular with people who live in the 3rd world. That's what I was trying to allude to here, hence my inclusion of the first world.

Was communist-era Poland considered 3rd world? Because I'm pretty sure it was, and camping was the most popular mode of staying away from home.

It wasn't always this way / this may be culturally dependent. In the UK at least there used to be a big working class connection to outdoor walking (Kinder Scout trespass!) and camping, as it was the cheapest form of holiday. I think this may have gone away with the advent of cheap flights to cheaper drinking locations.

I suppose it depends on what version of camping you’re looking at. Backpacking in the wilderness seems to draw a crowd of either students or middle class people. However, pull into a state park in Michigan and you’ll see the whole range of socio-economic groups. Additionally, in this style of ‘camping’ the wealthier people actually show up with a whole house on wheels so I don’t even know how you call it camping.

Very interesting article. I'm upper middle class and really like strength training, but not in a bodybuilding kind of way. I don't want to get big, I want to get/keep reasonably muscular, for the reasons stated in the article : the older you get, the more muscle you tend to lose for natural reasons.

For that goal, I like calisthenics. Push ups, pull ups, bodyweight squats, planks, that kind of stuff. It's extremely cheap (only needs a pullup bar) and can be done anywhere, even when traveling. I can't think of a cheaper sport, I don't even need a pair of trainers.

That's the trend. Probably will see "why do rich people love strength/fitness sports" in 20 years. Certainly crossfit doesn't include many people on the dole.

> upper middle class Americans favor endurance sports as a way to demonstrate "moral character, self-control, and self-development, rather than physical dominance."

As an upper middle class runner, I can definitely agree with that statement. At times, I feel like my habits of running give me a little bit of an edge over my peers at some level.

I disagree. I think the rich like endurance sports because they're safe. My father was a triathlete. He could push himself to his heart's content and never worry about taking a kick to the temple.

Another HUGE factor is age. Rich people tend to be older. Older people can do endurance much easier than say, combat sports.

The safety aspect is... well, in my experience, the rich like dangerous sports. Think skiing, horse riding/polo, sailing/yachting. The rules of boxing are named after an aristocrat. They're all expensive, they're all fun, and they can all kill you without too much trouble. For more fun like this, see the Dangerous Sports Club: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2004/02/oxford-university-d...

the rich like endurance sports because they're safe

What a peculiar thing to say. You can get caught in a rip tide swimming in the sea, collapse from heat exhaustion while running, any number of things.

never worry about taking a kick to the temple

In MMA which I assume you are referencing the ref can stop the fight instantly and there’s always a fully equipped hospital a short drive away. It’s massively safer than an ultramarathon or a full triathlon and that’s even before you get to the self-navigating and self-supporting stuff.

Endurance sports by definition require time, something that is not in abundance when you are poor and working long hours.

You also may think that long distance running is simple and pure and has a low barrier to entry. But take a look at the money that has gone into the shoes, clothes, specialist accessories and bags, travelling to races, paying entry fees, and so on that a dedicated runner spends their money on.

I also think that the more someone focuses on money the more they generally feel like they have something to prove. Endurance sports are a, relatively, accessible way of demonstrating excellence in something.

I agree with the time aspect, but not the money. Running has possibly one of the lowest barriers to entry, money-wise, of any sport. You need a pair of trainers, but unless you're running pretty seriously any comfortable pair will do. That's it. A good pair of running shoes costs $100, and it's all you need to compete at all but the highest levels. Compared to swimming, cycling, or literally any sport that requires equipment to play, the costs are tiny.

Interesting re: running.

A couple of years back, one of my colleagues worked part time as he came from a wealthy family. Work was more of a hobby for him, like 1-2 days per week. For me, the money I made from work was something real. I needed to do it and did it 6 days weekly. Work days for me was much harder because I needed the work and money. My days were also much longer.

We both signed up for a marathon and he was able to improve much faster and run much faster in the end. I had to stop training because I injured my feet. Why? He had more rest days and then to recover and train. On the other hand, I already stood a lot during the day and injured my feet during one of my runs. I also had much less energy to train after working so much each day.

Running absolutely has one of the lowest barriers of entry, as a general sport. But specifically talking about endurance sports (which I assumed mean't running marathons and ultras etc) it becomes much harder to keep costs to a minimum. I'm sure there are people that run ultras in their 100$ shoes that they purchased last year but most are going through a lot of shoes and technical clothing just while training.

And travelling to the few and far between ultras there are compared to shorter local races that most running enthusiasts without a lot of savings and with limited ability to take time off work settle on.

> And travelling to the few and far between ultras

Depends where you are, I suppose. In South East England, there's fairly frequent 6h challenge races where you can ultra if you're quick enough and they're pretty cheap (~£40).

It's not quite that cheap. Most marathons have a significant sign-up fee (~$100). If you're serious about running a marathon you'll probably average about 80km/week in training. Running shoes last about 1000km so you need a new pair 4 times a year.

That said, iff you run two marathons a year and don't care which ones you do you can probably do it for < $1k a year.

Competing costs money in any sport, and yeah commercial races can be expensive but there are many many cheap races to be had too. I am based in the UK, and here's how you can get involved in running cheaply:

* Join Parkrun[1], free weekly timed 5k runs almost anywhere in the UK and in many other countries. Open to all abilities, and there are tail-walkers for all runs so you literally cannot finish last!

* More serious? Join a running club. Subscriptions will be ~£50 per year, include (lots!) of training, track access, free entry to many races throughout the year and reduced price entry to all others (via your included UK Athletics membership).

* Find cheap runs (non-commercial), e.g. those run by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team, which only cost ~£5 to enter[2]. Many other such races around the country can be found via Run Britain[3].

Of course, all you need to run is a pair of trainers, weather-appropriate clothing (doesn't have to be running gear) and motivation to get out the door. The great thing about running is you can do it anywhere.

1: http://www.parkrun.com/

2: https://uk.srichinmoyraces.org/races/london

3: https://www.runbritain.com/races

OTOH, you can run a (unofficial) marathon anytime and anywhere. Why would you need an organized event?

I've run plenty and it cost me exactly $0 in fees.

I suspect for most people, it's because a full marathon is at the very limit of their abilities, and a rare event. Most runners will run exactly one; even runners who keep at it will run only one per year. They'll need course support (including the enthusiasm of onlookers and other runners) just to be able to complete it. And they'll want to celebrate it and commemorate it with all the rigamarole that accompanies an organized race: the shirt, the medal, the banana.

None of that's necessary, of course, but if you think of it as "150 dollars per year" invested in the sport, rather than "a really expensive day doing the same thing you have been doing", the fees don't seem like all that much.

For me, those fees are motivation: I don't want to fail or look stupid at something I paid to do. Stupid, I know, but it's kind of a dumb event anyway. I'd be in overall better shape if I didn't run 26 miles in October and then take two weeks off to recover.

As far as I know, you can even enter these events without paying a dime. You only don't get the t-shirt, medal, and the official time. But run you can, and get the cheering and everything. Definitely some that a poor person can do.

In theory you don't get the course support, though I doubt anybody is ever going to say "No race number, no Gatorade for you!"

I'd feel weird about it: they put a lot of effort into closing the roads, coordinating volunteers, getting the water ready, etc. But if I were broke I'd probably put that aside.

When I was in Chicago during the marathon last year, they had a segment on the local news station about the average cost for a participant. Travel to Chicago, hotel, meals shoes, entry fees, it was like $3,000 USD. that doesn't include training up to that point and qualifying at another marathon, etc etc

Yeah the $3k figure I can believe, but then again Chicago is one of the World Marathon Majors. There will be another marathon aroudn Chicago that'll be <$300 all in.

I don't know where they got that stat but it must be very inflated.

* entry fee < 200

* airfare < 500

* hotel x 2 days < 300

* food x 2 days < 100

So if you try hard you can break $1000. I don't count shoes because you use them for months, not one event.

One the other hand if you live in Chicago the cost goes down to entry fee (I think marathon entry fees are insanely high though), and if you're a member of a local running club you can often even get around that.

> If you're serious about running a marathon you'll probably average about 80km/week in training.

For my first marathon, my training was a half marathon the month previous and my training for that was zero (signed up 3 days before.) Now I'll concede it wasn't fast by any means (5h35) but you absolutely do not need to do 80km/week for marathon running if you're going to be in the 4h30-6h timeframe (and, indeed, most of the extreme runners I know don't do any training because they're averaging 50+ marathons a year and there's just no damn time for anything else.)

I think most people in reasonable, healthy shape can physically cross 42km. I don't mean at all to diminish it as an achievement to complete one in any time, but I think you are minimizing the effort many people put into training. The OP's amount is not an unreasonable weekly target for many people. IMO being "serious" as mentioned above is closer to a 2.5 to 3.5hr finish time.

> I don't mean at all to diminish it as an achievement to complete one in any time


> but

Oh dear.

> I think you are minimizing the effort many people put into training

Nah. Just pointing out that people who say "you must do 80km a week to run a marathon" are talking gibberish. If they added "sub-3", sure, I'd accept that as probably valid (although I know people who do sub-3 without 80km a week.)

Like I keep saying, it's all anecdata and there's no hard and fast rules yet people insist on pontificating as if there are.

> Oh dear.

I hope you are't honestly try to claim I'm diminishing an achievement while simultaneously talking about how easy it is to do.

> Just pointing out that people who say "you must do 80km a week to run a marathon" are talking gibberish

Literally nobody has said this.

You can use cheaper or older shoes for training, and you don't need to train 80k/week for the whole year if you are running two marathons. I'd say you can do it a lot cheaper than 1k if that's what's important to you.

You don't have to pay 100$ to run a marathon. If you have a pair of running shoes and a normal running belt (for water and a gel) that will do. You just have to put them on and there you go. I've done a couple of "Sunday marathons" (aka "long aerobic run") with two friends. They have costed me ~2$ for a gel.

Equipment wise, you don't need to pay 100$ for shoes. There are many <300$ shoes from the last season (last year model) on discount pretty much all year round for 60$-80$. I burn 3 pairs of shoes a year, and even though I could afford expensive shoes, I pretty much always end up finding the ones I want for 70$ somewhere online.

Running belts price varies (from $10 to "as much as you want to pay"), but they are a one time investment. I bought a nice neopren one once, and it will probably outlive my children. If you are running enough to be able to "just go and run a marathon", chances are that you already have a running belt to carry a mobile phone, keys, id, money, gels, water, etc. They are just insanely useful.

I run around 8 hours / week, and my expenses are around 300$ per year. Some years I've paid a bit more, e.g. got a heart rate monitor for 30$, running ear phones for 80$, headlight ~20$, I don't have a running watch yet.., nice running shorts and shirts (couple of 100$s), etc. I've also gone to some races, but I've never paid more than 15-20$ for them. You can do half-marathons and marathons for that money, and some of them are non-profit, so you could deduce that from your taxes if it was worth your time. Also, most races typically give you running tshirts, gloves, and what not as a "finisher" gift.

Honestly, factoring the time I've spent running during my lifetime, and the money I've spent over the last 10 years, it's by far the cheapest hobby I have.

EDIT: That might be a lie. My absolute cheapest hobby is actually swimming. Swim shorts for 20-30$, swim googles for 5-10$, and an annual membership on a masters team (120$/year for 6h of swimming / week, where I only actually end up using 2-4 h). Swim short and googles need replacing only every couple of years, so swimming costs me around 150$/year for about half or a quarter of the hours I spend running / week.

Swimming and running, compared with my other hobbies, are negligibly cheap. I go snowboarding for 2 weeks a year, and that cost me ~2000$ + maintaining my equipment (I basically end up spending ~300-600$ on snowboarding equipment / year). I go cycling with my gf every now and then but not enough to make a 2000$ road bike + equipment cheap. And well I have a motorbike because I want to and that also costs multiple 1000$s dollars per year, I don't even want to know how much.

So yeah, swimming, running, calisthenics, etc. are damn cheap sports. You don't need to spend 1000$s/year on these. If you are tight on money you can probably manage 20h of fun per week by spending ~300$ per year without issues. Obviously, if you want 1-on-1 crossfit training wearing fashionable clothes wearing a go pro and drinking avocado toast kale smoothies you are going to end up paying a lot, but that's not necessary at all.

Assuming you are not poor. Even the lowest price for shoes, you said is $60 and you go through 3 pairs. When I was poor, I was happy to get my one qair of shoes for the whole year at the $20-$30 range. Getting another pair for any special activity wouldn't make sense unless it was required for work.

Outside of that silly aside, running competitively requires running in competitions, and these range into the couple hundred dollar range per run. This is a tough barrier for someone on the low socio-economic ladder. Sure, a dedicated poor person can make it work, but that barrier is practically nil for someone well off.

Of course you can just go and run. No argument there. Training is "free" if you have the time. But most events cost money, and that is where the endurance activity becomes an endurance sport.

I have no idea how people manage to go through 3 pairs of shoes in one season. Maybe those are some kind of special ultra-lightweight running shoes that are designed to fall apart quickly?

8 years ago I bought random New Balance shoes for $65 (New Balance, model MT573 -- just looked up an exact email from Zappos). I've been using them exclusively as my only "gym" shoes for 7 years: I've ran half-marathon in them 2 years ago, I did weightlifting, crossfit, and tennis in them. I regularly exercise 3+ times a week (sometimes more), so I'd estimate that I've logged 1000-1500 miles (~1500-2250km) in them. Sure, they are a little worn out by now, but they are absolutely good to go. And I'm 200-220lbs (~90-100kg).

But long time ago when I was running in high school I've had some other random cheap shoes [1] that I've used for 4+ years. During that time I've been running regularly 3-4 times a week for 10km @ ~40-45min. In warm season I was running in random cotton shorts and a random oversized cotton t-shirt. In cold season I (everyone) was wearing long johns under the track suit and this was it. My father grew up in Seberia doing cross country skiing in way harsher weather wearing something similar.

So yeah ... in my experience running as a hobby is ridiculously cheap.

[1] This was in early 2000s in Ukraine, everyone was poor here, so I'm pretty sure those shoes couldn't cost more than ~$20, which was still a lot for my family.

> A good pair of running shoes costs $100,

For what it's worth, $100 spent as disposable income is not really affordable for a huge percentage of the economically-not-well population. In other words, $100 is a lot of money for a lot of people.

You can get a good pair of Champion-brand running shoes for $20 at Payless. I've run in them, and I've run in $150 Nikes and Mizunos. There's nothing wrong with the $20 Champions for most recreational runners.

To run, you need healthy joints. If you're poor, you probably have a chronic injury that was never treated by your thirties. Easily.

I'm in the US, countries with real healthcare might be different.

As well, it takes money to have somewhere close to your house that's safe to run through.

Once you have the basics covered, running is easy to get into and cheap. But if you don't have middle-class basics, it takes an investment,

I guess what counts as 'middle class basics' in the US counts as 'basics' in the UK. Sarcasm aside, I find it a bit bonkers that places might not be safe to run, although I do believe it.

Except for the shoes (2 pairs a year, around 100€ each), I run with mostly the same gear I've bought 10 years ago. I don't travel and don't pay any fees, I just run in the forest down my street, 40 km a week. From time to time, when I feel like it, I run a semi all by myself, for a grand cost of 0 €. It mostly takes time, about 1h30 to 2 hours a day (dressing, warming up, running, stretching, showering).

Running does generally have a low cost of entry, but how low depends a lot on conditions. I typically go through three pairs of regular shoes a year, plus a separate pair of winter shoes which are even more expensive (because Gore Tex). Since I run in snow and sub-freezing temperatures, I need a whole bunch of other gear - cap, gloves, tights, long-sleeved shirts, a jacket for the really cold days, etc. Multiple pairs of all-synthetic socks and underwear aren't free. Throw in a headlamp, various kinds of ankle/knee support, anti-friction stuff, belt/pouch to carry ID and money securely, probably other stuff I can't remember.

I probably have several hundred US dollars worth of running stuff on hand at any time. Sure, I could just throw on an old pair of shoes, but I'd freeze or injure myself right quick and that would end up being even more expensive. Running once in good conditions is cheap. Running continuously in all kinds of conditions is less so.

I can totally relate here. I remember that when I started running, "it's too cold", "it's too windy", "it's too dark", etc. were real issues. It was too dark and I didn't had enough experience running in the dark, and for me it was indeed too cold. If one can afford the equipment, good equipment does reduce many issues and if that means that you'll go running more for me it was money well spent.

After a few years as I had more experience, ran faster (and warmer), these issues mostly disappeared. Nowadays on winter I only run with shorts, a thin hard-shell, and thin shoes (sometimes five-fingers) with temps of -5C. Some days get much colder (e.g. -10 or -15 C) but when I've used some of the warm clothes I used in the first couple of years of running they've always felt too warm. The only thing that's still an issue is running in the dark. Independently of whether I know the trail, have a head-lamp, etc. I run slower in the dark than during the day, except on the track. So now when its dark, I always go to a running track to run. Most of them have lights on till late, and some schools, most universities, etc. have one and they let you use it for free.

Cold tolerance seems like a very individual thing. I've been up and down the scale a few times in terms of my weight, condition and speed. It doesn't seem to have made much difference to my comfort levels in the cold. I think the coldest run I've done in regular shorts/shirt/shoes was exactly freezing. Even then I wore a thin beanie and gloves. Without those, I would certainly have been quite uncomfortable and might have been at risk for worse. Hypothermia is a real thing. I've seen it, and don't want to experience it.

I guess it would be nice if I could run wearing less, but I honestly don't think it would be safe for me. Your mileage obviously does vary. ;) As it is, I have winter shirts, undershirts, and socks that are all different brands, and I am keenly aware of which ones are better at which temperatures. There's a bit of an art to wearing exactly the right level of gear for the conditions, and I've simply had to become good at it.

I have simple rules regarding weather:

1° it's more than 12-15°C outside : shorts and short sleeves

2° it's less than 12-15°C : long tights and long sleeves

3° it's less than 5°C : add cap, gloves and microfibre top to the previous set.

4° it's raining: I'm not made of sugar :)

5° it's heavily raining : I wear a cheap rain poncho, it's fine.

All my sport wear is the cheapest stuff from Decathlon, 5 euros shirts, etc. The rest of my gear probably cost me less than 150 euros and I've been using all the same gear (but socks and shorts) for 10 years, it doesn't wear out much.

I wear the exact same socks and shoes and short-sleeved running t-shirt whatever the weather is. I only use one sort of anti-friction stuff: 3M tegaderm. Exactly 1 square cm2 of it on each breast. A roll lasts a couple of years or so. I threw away a pair of shorts that hurt me at the thighs. I don't carry any money or phone or anything but my home key, in the small pocket all shorts and tights have. I don't carry water either, because I don't run more than 2 hours straight anyway, I drink before and after and that's fine.

I had a couple of injuries after turning 45 but it's nothing gear-related, really.

Not that dissimilar to my own rules.

Above 5C: normal/light gear

0 to 5C: add light beanie and gloves

-5 to 5C: add long-sleeved shirt (over compression T) and tights

-10 to -5C: jacket instead of shirt, warmer gloves

-15 to -10C: balaclava-style mask instead of beanie

Below -15C: just don't

I'll often go "down" a level if it's windy and/or moist, "up" half a level if it's an unusually short/fast run. The main thing is that as long as I wear the right gear I actually prefer winter running. It's quiet, it's scenic, and I have control over my heat level. What I really hate is the hot humid days of summer, which I can't do anything about.

A Goretex jacket is a godsend but I’ve never rated Goretex trainers. In conditions that need Goretex water will inevitably enter over the top anyway, and now you have buckets on your feet!

> In conditions that need Goretex water will inevitably enter over the top anyway

That sounds right for water, but definitely not true for snow. I don't run when it's deep on the ground, but even a little can splash onto the uppers and then soak through. It's like running through shallow puddles half the time, not fording a stream. I know from experience - maybe a thousand miles of running in New England winters over the last few years - that Gore Tex and similar barrier fabrics avoid that problem quite well.

Those same shoes usually come with high-traction soles (both materials and tread pattern) which are also essential in those conditions. And of course they're warmer. Winter running in summer shoes would be a recipe for freezing, blisters, or injury around here.

Not just are endurance sports relatively accessible, but the investment of time almost directly translates in to achievement. You can’t train your way to beating elite athletes but you can absolutely train your way to the top of your peer group, especially in the 40+ year old groups. With many of the ball or “skill” sports, there are some things you just might have.

It would also be remiss to not mention the health and longevity type benefits. Health and energy, after 60 to 90 minutes of cardio, I’m charged up for the rest of the day, with or without coffee

> But take a look at the money that has gone into the shoes, clothes, specialist accessories and bags, travelling to races, paying entry fees,

Taking one marathon I've done, shoes (which get used a lot) were £110 (because I have wide feet and have to buy Hoka/Altra); travel was £40 (train to the coast) + £4 (Brompton hire); accommodation was £90 (B&B); entry was £40; kit was about £40; £324 total. If I had a car, I could have swapped £134 of that for about £30 in petrol. The shoes and kit will last for at least a year and should be amortised.

You could probably do a marathon for £130 all told. Which is not nothing but it's a pretty low barrier to entry when you consider the cost of other sports.

> so on that a dedicated runner spends their money on

Anecdata: I know a lot of dedicated runners (50+ marathons/ultras a year, etc.) and almost none of them spend money on specialist accessories, bags, shoes, kit, etc.

I decided to have a look at the link from OP's article to see why the claimed cost ($1600) was so different to yours. Some of it was fairly reasonable...

- Race fee $86.40

- Extra food/coffee: $79.90

- Extra laundry: $25

- Transportation & lodging: $95

... some of it was very individual or easily avoidable on a budget...

- Gym membership: $130.50

- Pet car: $50

- Sports massages: $210

- Post-race celebrations: $163.46

... and the rest just seemed a bit excessive/unnecessary...

- Gear: $578.80

- "Running fuel": $19.90

> - Extra food/coffee: $79.90

A Mcdonalds breakfast will only cost you £5. Surprisingly common pre-race fuel for a lot of people I know who run marathons...

> - Gear: $578.80

Yeah, if you're buying an entire new set of gear for every marathon, I suppose it'll cost a lot. Although I'm struggling to see how you get to $578 (~£440) even splurging on expensive shoes and kit.

> A Mcdonalds breakfast will only cost you £5.

I think the $80 figure came from the total increase in the cost of groceries over the 18 week training period.

> I'm struggling to see how you get to $578

Me too. Apparently this was the cost of:

> two pairs of shoes, another pair of long winter tights, plus two new pairs of capri tights and two new pairs of shorts, a handful of new shirts, a new tank and visor to wear on race day ... a pair of ski mittens to wear over my regular running gloves during bitter cold training.

It didn't include a GPS watch, which she already possessed.

There’s got to be a running watch in there.

An excellent point. Although you can get a GPS running watch for about £70 in the UK[1] complete with wrist-based HRM (which is fine for most casual runners, I think.) And that'll last you a good few years, at least.

[1] https://www.decathlon.co.uk/onmove-500-gps-hr-watch-id_85290...

Plus, you absolutely don't need a running watch to run a marathon. That cost estimate is absurd.

that's the main reason I don't do them. I think paying 150$ to run 26 miles is a world class rip-off. Movies last 2 hours and cost 10$ to attend. I wouldn't mind paying 10$ for a half-marathon.

I was happy to discover that after a while (a year or so) running improved my thinking. I have my best ideas when running, and do most of my programming that way. I return to my desk and type it in.

I've lifted weights for years, and it does not have this effect.

Running, to me, is not "lost time". It's very productive time.

It is "meditational" for me as well. Running is my favorite place to think and to relax, but I think this is more due to independence and solitude.

If I want to spend an hour running six miles, nobody would deny me that.

I've done some tris, but mainly prefer to just do the elements, usually 1-2 at a time. But I also surf, which takes time and money (at least enough to live near the coast) and that's not ergically expensive. But there is a "blue sky" effect. Some of the biggest, most important thoughts I've had are alone in the cold dawn waters waiting for a wave. Others have been while chatting with a trusted confidante on the bike or the trail (no one talks while swimming, that I know of...).

If you look at the research, aerobic exercise seems to have positive effects on cognition, while lifting weights has almost none.

Bouldering has that effect on me. Give it a try if there is a gym close to you

My personal experience with rich people (including several billionaires) is that there is typically a lot of pressure for their time and attention, both externally and within their own brains.

Certain activities, including physical exertion, driving, and flying, force conscious attention to the present moment, and easily produce a “flow state”.

Of course, you can also produce that state with meditation, sex, and many other activities, but it typically requires more skill and intention.

My interpretation is that endurance sports are a straightforward way to induce pleasurable states of being for an extended duration, and these pleasurable states of being are actually statistically rarer in many wealthy people.

I've loved bike riding since before I had that much money. Also, as a data point, in Italy bike racing was traditionally a pretty blue-collar sport, and I think that goes for other European countries as well.

Personally... I like to be outside and doing something active, and I love to explore and see new places.


I'm a pretty serious cyclist, too.

Now, I'm not rich but I'm definitely comfortably to the right on the curve, so to speak. However, I've noticed something in the groups I ride with: the vast middle of the faster, strong riders are on equipment that's all about the same level, give or take a few things.

It's usually mid-grade frames from major brands sporting Ultegra or Force, so probably a $3,000US bike.

This is true if the rider is, like me, a middle-aged person with significant disposable income, or a genuine millionaire, or a just-out-of-school teacher. Some of these bikes were doubtless purchased used, but still.

A few folks upgrade; the most common bump is carbon wheels, followed by electronic shifting. Both make a difference, but neither are required to ride at the level we're riding at. And yeah, the very serious or very rich do splash out for nicer gear, but there are always outliers.

It's not entirely on point, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

In the UK, there tends to be an inverse correlation between the shininess of your bike and your performance. The young Cat A riders with one eye on a professional contract mostly ride 15-year-old aluminium race bikes or cheap off-brand carbon bikes; the weekend plodders are often on brand new Pinarellos or Cervelos. There's also a difference in clothing - it's almost a badge of honour to wear faded and threadbare kit, because it shows that you really put the hours in.

No amount of go-faster equipment will substitute for youth and training, but the middle-aged amateurs with pro-grade gear like to dream and help to sustain the cycling economy by doing so.

There's definitely a few of the older folks rolling around on equipment that's far in excess of their ability, sure.

The strongest folks I know are on good, well maintained bikes of about the class I mentioned. Most don't have the cash to upgrade frequently. Plus, most of us at this level are too picky about components to be happy with a factory build anymore, so you end up with upgrades on your bike until your bike is a new bike. LOL.

>Threadbare kit

I don't actually see a lot of that. I think a good chunk of why is climate here -- shit just wears out faster in the heat. There is a sense of bride in faded Rapha, though. (Guilty)

For myself, I've always been really opposed to showing up for any hobby where my gear vastly exceeded my skill. I get that some folks don't have that thing, but holy hell if you show up on a shiny new $12,000 Pinarello, you'd better be pretty fast -- if not, I kinda feel like it's okay to rag you.

Back in the 90ies, I stayed in the same hotel as a pro team who were racing in the Giro d'Italia. It was interesting to see their bikes: except for the GC guy, they were 'workhorses' - good components, and steel frames that, taken together, where not exactly featherweight.

A nice bike certainly helps, but it's all about your fitness and strength.

Rotating weight is the most important to minimize.

If you can shave off 500g in your wheelset, it makes much more difference than shaving 500g off the frame or other 'static' component.

In a punchy crit with constant accelerations, absolutely. For sustained efforts like time trials, it makes essentially no difference. Once you're up to speed, it's all aerodynamics, gravity and rolling resistance. Ondřej Sosenka actually used a weighted back wheel for his successful hour record ride, with the logic that it would act as a flywheel in the later parts of the hour and smooth out his ragged pedalling. Of course he did test positive for methamphetamine in 2008, which may have had something to do with breaking the hour record.

It's interesting you mention rolling resistance because in mountain biking, cross country anyway, where there will be climbing on loose surfaces, you have to trade off rolling resistance of the rear tire against traction.

If you over-inflate your tires, you'll have less traction.

There's also the fact that during a tough climb on a trail with obstacles (roots rocks) you can't just power your way up, you have to maintain constant awareness of where the contact patch of your rear wheel is at all times, and modulate the power such that you deliver the most power where you have the most traction.

Fail to do that on a rock or root and you'll blow the climb.

I guess I get my biases from mountain biking, where there is a lot more acceleration/deceleration going on.

There might be some pride, I have a fairly highend bike and I hate not riding it well. I'd much rather get dropped on one of my middle bikes than on my best weapon...

The difference between some of those mid-level bikes and superbikes is also quite small compared to the price. Regardless of you wealth, the return on investment isn't there unless you're just a bike nut. They are also getting specialized to the point that they are really pro-level bikes that sort of need sponsors and mechanics behind them; how many Pinarello frames have been broken in competition the last few years? It's one thing when they pull a near exact duplicate off the car and give it to you in a race, it's something else when you call your wife for help and then take it to your dealer and 6-8 weeks later you get a new frame from Italy iff your still under warranty. I only pick on Pinarello because I think I've seen 4+ chainstays broken over the last handful of years, in competition. The second level gruppos are generally known to be identical but more durable than the top levels.

this is off topic though...

>The difference between some of those mid-level bikes and superbikes is also quite small compared to the price.


I think the point of diminishing returns is probably the first decent carbon bike with 105 on it. Going above that gets you creature comforts -- Ultegra absolutely shifts more crisply, e.g. -- but won't make you materially faster.

Around here, the oft-repeated maxim is that Ultegra is worth it if you can easily afford it, but that Dura-Ace is just showing off. I think that's probably true.

There IS something to nicer wheels, but you kinda need to be fairly strong to justify the upgrade from decent alloy rims to aero carbon. I wore out the OEM rims that came on my bike, and a friend sold me his barely used ENVE 4.5s for a SONG (basically the "I need to get these out of the house, and I like you" price). They made a meaningful difference for me -- I'm quicker off the line, sure, but the bigger difference is the degree to which they feel like they just want to roll by themselves once I'm over 22-23MPH. I'm told that's more aero than weight, plus lower resistance from the hubs (DTSwiss 180).

BUT this also was a jump from pretty crappy OEM alloy to, realistically speaking, nearly top of the line carbon. My pal paid as much for these wheels as I paid for my entire bike 4 years ago. I wonder how much difference I'd have felt if my upgrade hadn't been such a huge jump.

>I only pick on Pinarello because I think I've seen 4+ chainstays broken over the last handful of years

Here, I don't even SEE that many Pinarellos. I think it's because of a lack of dealer presence. It's a big city (Houston), but the packs are dominated by Specialized, Cannondale, Cervelo, a bit of Trek, no small amount of Giant, and then a mix of more esoteric or custom bikes. I see more Moots or Alchemy than I do Pinarello. Bianchi is almost entirely absent.

Great photo. Are those mountains the Sisters in central Oregon?


It was really warm on Sunday here, so I went for a long ride with some nice views.


Nice ride! We don't have Bend's views, but the gravel is good down here on the central coast of Ca. So cool to see other cyclists/athletes in the comments on HN.


That's a nice amount of climbing! One of the few things I sort of dislike about this area is that it's not very 'rugged'; in the sense that while there's an incline towards the mountains, there aren't lots of smaller hills. My Sunday ride was comparatively flat:


Awesome. I am a big fan of that area. Looking forward to visiting it again soon!

Standing offer: always happy to have a beer or coffee with anyone who comes through here!

I'm going to be completely honest here - the story hits the nail on the head for me.

I was a mechanic in my younger years. I was content. I was lower middle class, but I didn't care. Yeah, it was dirty, it was tiring, it was hard on the body, but it was rewarding.

Once we had our first child, I refocused on a long-lost passion of mine and have been a network engineer for about seven years now...While I also love this job, and do find it rewarding, I got into cycling about six years ago.

I've always realized that I upped the 'profitability' of my career by over four-fold - and I know that I did it for the sake of my son and my wife. But I never realized that cycling actually filled a gap that I left for myself.

I'm completely fine with cycling filling that gap. My family lives a better life now, and I absolutely love cycling. The article definitely hit home with me - word after word, sentence after sentence, I can relate to the whole thing.

I'm very interested in that gap you refer to. Was there something you were used to as a mechanic that you weren't getting in your new career?

I think in auto mechanics, I accomplished things each day. Many beginnings and many ends. There was the mental challenges, similar to what I face these days, but those things came to completion much more frequently. It was rewarding.

Now my current job is absolutely rewarding as well. I’m actually recognized a lot for my troubleshooting ability, but normally a typical project from start to end could be four months - or more - if it includes a lot of documentation to pass off to an operations team. I definitely do more designing, documentation, and transitioning of those systems than I do troubleshooting, however these days.

Keep in mind, I’m not complaining - just explaining. I love my job and am challenged. I think it just misses some of the more frequent gratifying completion of tasks (which cycling fills).

Hope that explains a bit more.

> “By flooding the consciousness with gnawing unpleasantness, pain provides a temporary relief from the burdens of self-awareness,” write the researchers. “When leaving marks and wounds, pain helps consumers create the story of a fulfilled life. In a context of decreased physicality, [obstacle course races] play a major role in selling pain to the saturated selves of knowledge workers, who use pain as a way to simultaneously escape reflexivity and craft their life narrative.”

Yikes, if generally true :-) I work on reflexivity a lot with coaching clients. However it takes a lot of craft to work around to it for some, and even then it can feel like selling something really dangerous.

Modern culture seems to offer endless options for a breadth-first search for anything. In contrast, depth is seen as risky in a variety of ways, from social risk (never go deep in polite company!) to e.g. intellectual FOMO.

We make it really easy to ignore the self, to ignore "my condition" in favor of pursuing what is "healthy" or "impressive" for "our condition."

What does "reflexivity" mean in this context?

Reflexivity is a bit of an overburdened term in sociology, but in this case I think "depth of self-reflection" would be a reasonable stand-in definition.

Essentially, the relatively shallow externality of "pain, suffering" becomes a sort of pornography of self-improvement. In other words, it has all of the outward signs of self-improvement activity with none of the critical inward-turning, truly reflective contextualization.

In my own practice this is frequently seen in prioritization of e.g. income and careerism and socially-prioritized-labeled-experiences. The people who say, "I have circumnavigated the globe, I've climbed the tallest peak on every continent, I drank the mythical Peruvian tea, I am a triathlete, I was at the top of our sales floor so long that they did away with the award." When there's no real "me" and "who I am," in there, just a bunch of externalities that "all of us can honor and appreciate and sit in awe of," in a list.

> "our sports are not cheap: According to the New York Times, the total cost of running a marathon—arguably the least gear-intensive and costly of all endurance sports—can easily be north of $1,600"

I've run a few marathons, and I think that's nuts. It's only expensive if you want it to be. You don't need $580 worth of new clothes, $235 in intermediate races, a $130 gym membership, $210 worth of massages, $95 in transportation/lodging (if you run a local one), and $165 in celebration food (!!).

Wear clothes you already have (if you're at all athletic to begin with), get a training book from the library, and spend $100 for an entry fee and $100 for a good new pair of shoes or two. There, I just saved you $1500 off your next marathon.

I'm doing Boston this year, it's a flight from the UK. In total It'll be $2000.

... my race to qualify was £40 entry, petrol (£25?) and £3 parking (I only put 4 hours on the meter from when I arrived to give myself even more incentive).

So as is so often the case, a range in an article is uninformative - it tells us nothing about the normal experience and leaves us all extrapolating from our own experiences!

I think celebration food translates as a bottle of champagne... which makes it even more ridiculous.

I'm curious if there is a similar divide between individual sports and team sports. Virtually all the endurance sports discussed in this article are individual sports (with the possible exception of obstacle course races, but even then you aren't actively, directly engaged against another team like you are in sports like basketball, soccer, football, baseball, etc.)

My hypothesis is that getting an actual team (or teams) together to practice is something that is easier for people who are longer on time, shorter on money, while individual sports can be indulged by people with more money but where it is more difficult to synchronize schedules for team practice.

I fully agree with you. I always take my running kit when travelling, and when a meeting finishes will tend to leave my bag, and go an do an hour in the local park in the light. Trying to arrange to meet one friend is hard enough, many? Near imposible. Even making it to running club once a week is <50% as it requires negotiating with wife work dealines, work travel, an so much more.

Cycling is similar - I know doctors who are avid cyclists as it works so well. When they are on call they have to be available and can't go anywhere... perfect for the turbo trainer.

Long hours are intrinsic to endurance sports, though. An avid cyclist or runner will easily spend ten hours or more training each week. By contrast, I doubt many people put that much into beer league softball or pick up basketball. (It's also not clear to me that rich people have less time than middle class or poor people.)

Rich people tend to travel a lot and have schedules which vary from week to week, which does make it hard to reliably show up for team practice. But they can do endurance sports on their own schedule.

Sorry, I realized my post was unclear/poorly worded. The primary issue is not just total time needed, but amount of time needed to synchronize schedules with other people.

More affluent people tend to have much more of their daily time scheduled, while less affluent people tend to be more flexible with their time - they can afford to just "hang out".

The first half of the article was silly. Only people with disposable income participate in expensive sporting events. It didnt really differentiate for just running for yourself and running in pricey events, but it could easily have just pointed to having free time.

The second half was also pretty silly. That endurance sports are escapism from a mundane reality with no sense of objectives. Sure... that’s fine. But that’s also how all other hobbies work. You do it because you find it engaging and meaningful to pursue. Extended theorizing about the joys of painful struggle seem unwarranted.

Not mentioned: social signaling.

The first few sentences are silly. Biking and running are on opposite ends of the tinkering with gear spectrum.

They don't have to be. Cheap department store ones should last a year or two for someone just riding on weekends, it's not a great long term investment but it's good for the cash strapped and many people will give up long before the bike does. It's only a ~2X price jump to something that will last 10 years (more with maintenance) and better suited to someone commuting every day or doing distance rides, way cheaper than a car or public transport.

Sure you can spend thousands on a fancy carbon fiber machine and thousands more on accessories, but it's not a requirement. Even if you want to compete seriously, by the time it makes a noticeable difference manufacturers would be offering you bikes.

Depends on the distance run; having crewed an expedition in Death Valley amongst other places I think there's something to say for the complexity that long distance running can bring.

Cycling tends to have more expensive gear, but have you ever heard runners geek out about shoes, socks, chafing remedies, mobile hydration solutions, “gels,” etc.? Definitely not opposite ends of the spectrum.

>but have you ever heard runners geek out about shoes, socks, chafing remedies, mobile hydration solutions, “gels,” etc.

But pretty much all that is optional and the rate of performance return for investment is minuscule in running compared to biking.

If you shop around you can get good enough running shoes for $50. After that you need shorts, underwear that won't chafe a couple shirts (and possibly a sports bra). For under $100 you can have everything you need to train for and complete a marathon.

Absolutely. You can get a bike for free as well. But not many people who are very interested in either sport do that.

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