A Workout In The Life Of...

Posted by: 
Klyn Elsbury

The term “athlete” was derived from the Ancient Greeks, initially to describe an event based on physical feats.  According to wikipedia, from the Greek word athlētēs means “combatant in public games”, Athlon means "prize", and athlos means “competition”.

As I sit here, facing another pulmonary exacerbation and prepping for my next 2-6 week IV tune up, I can’t help but realize how very “Olympian” the definition of athletehas become. The word “athlete” conjures up images of runners, bikers, Gold medals, (the ridiculously buff and attractive men at the gym), LaBron, and the Superbowl.   

Odd that with those images, today’s modern culture defines an athlete as anyone who is actively competing for a prize.  

Personally, when I think of a Cystic FIbrosis athlete, I recognize the East Coast attorney friend who bikes 80 miles in a weekend and can run a 6 minute mile.  I recognize the West Coast  marathoner who shares her struggles with fitness along with the photos of salt staining her running shoes.  I think of the Yogi who dedicates her career to coaching others, despite the 4 hours in a day of treatments she needs to do. There’s the heroic girl from the heart of the Midwest, who can be seen with her oxygen tank at the gym next to her personal trainer. Lastly, I think of the smiling swimmer at the local YMCA, who with only 27% of her lungs left, recently finished 11 laps before needing her oxygen tank back.


Cystic Fibrosis athletes, publicly fight for the air in our lungs. We aren’t competing to be #1 in our given activity, we are competing to be our best version of ourselves.  We are not publicly competing for a prize, (although it feels rather public when we get odd stares as we hack up mucous during workouts).  We may never win an athletic competition with monetary gain, rise in socioeconomic status, or a room dedicated just to our trophies.  

But we will win something...  something more powerful than most people will realize.  We workout to win one less hospitalization, to get out of the hospital one day sooner, to have enough lung capacity to one day walk down an aisle without fear of coughing during the ceremony.  We workout to win our own lungs back! We will win a percentage of life that maybe, other athletes, take for granted.


By working out every day, becoming our own version of an athlete, our ultimate prize, is the chance for our lives to be lived and our dreams to come true.  The biker can win his court case because he is not hospitalized, the West Coast marathoner can cross that finish line and a previo

usly deemed “impossible” feat off her list, the Yogi can inspire the next generation of athletes, the heroin can go back to her career helping animals, and the swimmer can be strong enough for a transplant that can give her a second breath of life.  

Presumably Hercules, Rameses and I can all agree...


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