Identifying as a runner is complicated.
When do you go from being someone who runs to someone who’s a “runner”? Is there a moment, a milestone, a decree? Is this status a personal badge of honor or one that’s attributed to you by someone else who’s a “runner”? Are you a ‘real runner’ when you splurge for your first running watch? Does your status correlate with how much lingo you know and use correctly? Do you have to race to be a ‘real runner’?
Contrary to the quote above, an experienced Boston Marathoner once told me, “you’re not a real runner unless you run in the rain”. Well, today I ran 13.1 miles in the intermittent pouring rain. I did the mental work to overcome the mental barricade of running in the rain. I was energized and determined. The weather didn’t inhibit my excitement or derail my determination.
So two hours and eighteen minutes later after completing my fourth half marathon, am I finally a ‘real runner’? Was I not before?
I know I’m a ‘real runner’ because:
- I lace up my shoes and fully commit to each run.
- I trust myself and my abilities by using mindfulness techniques and developing an improved sense of self-awareness during the miles I log on the road.
- I turn in early week after week so I can wake up for training runs, and I triumphantly complete training plans even though I live with chronic pain.
- I mentor elementary and high school students (as well as my friends!) to run distances that seem impossible when they first start.
- I own four pairs of running shoes and I’ll gladly spend money on running gear before business casual attire for work.
- I pack my running gear when I go on vacation. I think it’s the best way to explore a new city.
- I often contemplate if I can get somewhere nearby by running instead of driving, and I’ll check the “walking” directions to compare the time.
- I don’t run for “health” reasons (read: weight loss).
- I’m part of a larger running community filled with people who “get it” and also love this sport!
- I nearly lost my mind during taper week because running makes me feel whole.
- I RUN!
‘Real runners’ are courageous. They run toward and into their fears instead of away from them. They fervently chase their goals and realize that conquering them takes persistence and dedication. In fact, ‘real runners’ are some of the most dedicated, driven people I know. ‘Real runners’ appreciate each day they get to run and embrace the running process.
‘Real runners’ commit to building a thriving running community! Here’s an example, I was running through the rain today, and I was losing momentum. I hurt my knee, but I was determined to finish the race! An older gentleman came next to me at mile 11 and held my hand. He said, “let’s do this” and ran with me for a bit until I regained my stamina! ‘Real runners’ support each other on and off the course. They know how much of a privilege it is to move with purpose and intention. They know camaraderie and co-misery too!
So, today I ran 13.1 miles in the rain. I hobbled through mile 10, and got energy from my fellow runners on the course in mile 11. I finished smiling, and I’m ready to do it again soon! I almost met my time goals, and I learned a lot in the process! I feel proud!
I am a ‘real runner’!
What attributes do you think resemble a ‘real runner’? Complete the sentence in the comments section: “I’m a ‘real runner’ because…”