What Makes A Runner?

11 Dec

‘Tis a question I have often asked myself in the past year. After Marine Corps Marathon last year I completely jumped off the running bandwagon. Actually, jumped doesn’t do my nose-dive off the bandwagon justice. In the space of a couple months, I went from “OMG. I love running. It’s the best thing ever” to “Running is the worst. Ever. I’m not running another mile or even another step.”

Every run felt hard. I applied desperation tactics in an effort to motivate myself. I made training plans and paid no attention to them (even the color-coordinated plans). I bought new shoes only to leave them in a box in the back of the closet. For awhile, I just gave up on running. My life was changing and I felt none of my previous overwhelming desires to run as an escape.

But like bad 80s clothing trends, running just wouldn’t stay out of my life for long. I soon found myself lacing up my pretty new Brooks Pure Connects and heading out for runs. Shorter runs, but still runs. Adopting this psycho helped, as someone didn’t appreciate the brilliance of sitting on our butts all day:


Adopting this little nutter helped too, as he thoroughly enjoys an excuse to don his stylin’ green raincoat:


Between these two crazies and few other exceedingly dull reasons, my love of running returned. I ran the Las Vegas Half in early December and signed up for a few more upcoming races. Some super-serious thought is going into my 2013 running goals. And not just, “I want to own some lime-green running shoes” but real running goals. Things like “I want to run a sub-2 hour half-marathon.” That’s some super-serious thinking right there folks!

Writing my 2013 running goals prompted some thinking about what exactly qualifies you as a runner. Is it hitting a certain weekly mileage? Is it signing up for a race? Racing a certain distance? Are there certain time qualifications? What invisible line do you have to cross to become a runner?

This topic  has been discussed ad naseum in the blogosphere but I’m going to throw in a few thoughts of my own:

If you run you are runner. It doesn’t matter if you run 3 times a week at a 10-minute per mile pace, or 6 times a week at 7-minute per mile pace. By putting on your trusty running shoes and hitting the pavement a few times a week you are a runner.

If you find the time in your day to go out for a run you are a runner. It doesn’t matter if you find 20 minutes or 2 hours. If you carve out that time for yourself to run you are a runner.

If you are excited by the prospect of running, whether it be a race, or a standard Tuesday morning run, you are a runner. There will be days where you loathe running with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. There may even be months like that (ugh, been there, done that, got the t-shirt) but if there are days where you just OMG! cannot wait to lace up your running shoes, then you are a runner.

I’m not sure when being a runner started to involve having to run X number of races a year at Y time for Z distance (also, when did algebra get involved with running? I HATE algebra and all math. This needs to end!) Being a runner shouldn’t be about any of that BS. Above everything else, considering yourself a runner is an attitude. Why should someone who runs a 16-minute 5k be any more of a runner than someone who runs a 30-minute 5k?

Being a runner is about showing up. Day in and day out. On the good days and bad days. It’s about committing to constant improvement, no matter what your starting point. It’s about pushing yourself and picking yourself up when things get hard. That’s what makes a runner. Not fast times, not race medals, not fancy gear. But commitment.

What do you think qualifies someone as a runner? Cool shoes? Distance? Attitude?


3 Responses to “What Makes A Runner?”

  1. trueindigo December 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    You are a runner when you wish you were out running.

  2. Robinson December 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    I think trueindigo summed it up nicely.

    The pity is – I don’t think that most runners apply that to ourselves – even when we believe it for others. I have told many people – if you are out there running 1/2 a mile – you are a runner.

    But I never feel like i am a runner, until I can consistently do 3 miles as my short runs.

    • feetoffancy December 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Agreed! After 3+ years of running I still sometimes struggle to call myself a runner, but won’t hesitate to proclaim others a runner.

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