Running · Uncategorized

What Defines a Real Runner?

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?

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9 thoughts on “What Defines a Real Runner?

  1. Wow Swags, thanks for the kind words! I am excited to continue on my training, and can’t wait to run in my first 50k (many moons from now πŸ˜‰ ). In all honesty, I didn’t consider myself a runner either, until I crossed the finish line of that first half-marathon I did. The words “So, can I call myself a runner now?” were some of the first I said when I finally found my family afterwards πŸ™‚

  2. Hehe this frequently goes through my mind when I’m running as I always feel like I’m not ‘enough’ to be a runner, but what is ‘enough’? The one time I feel like a runner is when I attend races and I’m surprised I don’t face plant and suddenly I’m running and I can do it! But other times, less so πŸ™‚ But I don’t really mind as the intention to run is always there and that’s what ultimately matters rather than my label..!

    1. Haha I love this Lucy! And I completely agree. To that point, I’ve definitely face planted on training runs and I think those falls made me feel even more like a ‘real’ runner. Battle scars, if you will πŸ™‚

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