The platypus has the bill of a duck, the body of an otter and the tail of a beaver. The males are venomous, and although they’re mammals, the females lay eggs. This creature is the Swiss army knife of the animal kingdom, but instead of a corkscrew or scissors, it has webbed feet and it’s covered in hair. Because of all of these facts, there is a simple yet important lesson that runners can learn from the platypus: you can be the Swiss army knife of running.
Duck-like bill. Flipper-like limbs. Beaver-like tail: with its mix of traits, the platypus may be one of Earth's strangest mammals! #DYK its bill is a super-sensory organ—packed w/ receptor cells—that help it detect movements & electric fields produced by prey?[📸: Tony Morris] pic.twitter.com/4dmKl4vE6T
— American Museum of Natural History (@AMNH) April 11, 2020
Don’t get pigeonholed
Let’s be honest, the platypus just looks like it was a mistake. If a beaver, duck, otter and a few other animals got put into a cloning machine at the same time, there’s a good chance that the platypus is what would come out. Despite its odd amalgam of features and its cross-categorization, it’s a real animal. So what’s stopping you, as a runner, from diving into the multiple categories of running?
If you’re new to running, you’ll probably start off on the road, because it’s right outside—just walk out your door and go. After a while, you might decide to give racing a try. You might start with a 5K, then a 10K and maybe eventually you’ll shoot for the marathon.
Just because you love the road doesn’t mean you can’t also branch out into different types of running. You can try trail running, or you can venture into the world of track and field. Once you jump into one of these other arenas, though, you don’t have to leave your road running in the past. If you want, you can continue to train and compete in two or all three types of running.
Becoming the platypus of running
By training for each different type of running, you’ll develop strengths that you wouldn’t have if you’d resigned yourself to being a single-faceted runner. Plus, the variety will mix things up and make training more fun. Without its webbed feet, the platypus couldn’t swim, and if it didn’t have its bill, it couldn’t navigate and find food. It survives and is stronger because of its variety of features. Likewise, with you, adding layers to your running career won’t make you weaker or wear you down, they’ll make you a better runner all around.
The platypus is a real animal pic.twitter.com/5bZQGZ2VFZ
— staxwell (@staxwell6) April 7, 2020
If a platypus can exist, you can be a trail runner, a trackie and a road runner, all at the same time. You can run 3,000m races, 5Ks and ultras if you like. Don’t feel pressured to box yourself into one category—be like a platypus and take a piece from each.