Home > The Scene

What runners can learn from platypuses

The platypus has a lot to teach runners

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.

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?

RELATED: What runners can learn from chess players

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.

RELATED: What runners can learn from golden retrievers

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.

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.