I am a runner.
I race distances from 5K to Ultramarathon. I win age groups. I win medals. I train. Hard. I can remember the first time I went out in college and actually enjoyed a run for the sheer fact that I enjoyed being active and being absolutely drenched in sweat.
However, to be honest, I didn’t consider myself a real runner until I started training for my first half marathon. Sure I went out and ran multiple times a week, participated in group runs, track workouts, yoga for runners classes; You name it, I did it. But in doing all of that, I was always comparing myself to other runners. There were always people running further distances, better times and just looked like a runner. They were part of a local running community and had support from it.
I wasn’t a member of a running community. While I was skinny, I didn’t look like a runner. And I certainly didn’t feel like a runner.
Which brings me to the initial question, what defines a real runner?
Can you consider yourself a runner by how far you can run? Or how long you can stay running without stopping or walking? Is it how many competitive races you’ve participated in? Or how many you’ve placed in and won?
Kaitie address her struggle with feeling like a fraud in her blog KaitieDid. Her struggle is whether she can really define herself a runner when she takes walk breaks during her runs. It really took a toll on her and forced that ugly voice in all our heads to make her question herself and her abilities.
Kaitie, you are not alone. Even those of us training for 50K + races have and will continue to go through the exact same thing. You ARE a runner, and you are simply great.
I suppose I didn’t qualify myself as a runner until that first half because I didn’t feel like I’d finally given in and dedicated myself to not only the act of running but the lifestyle. I knew that running had become a priority.
Looking back at my own struggles in the past, I can confidently say I think anyone who goes out, dedicates themselves to being healthy and active through running, regardless of how far they can run at a given time, is a runner.
When did you finally know you were a runner? When is it okay to consider yourself a runner?