Am I A Runner?

Thanks so much to the readers who left comments, sent me emails and messaged me on Facebook about my leg.  You are all awesome, and a good reminder of why, whether I race next Saturday or not, this training and blogging experience has been amazing and positive.  In particular, my friend Erin deserves a shout-out, because she sent a copy of my whiny post to all her marathoner friends and asked them to chime in with any advice.  As a result, I have an appointment on Monday morning with a sports massage therapist, which I am very excited about.  This lovely woman even offered to let me come to her house on Saturday morning, and she doesn’t even know me.  If I wasn’t taking off with the boys this afternoon to visit my parents for the weekend, I would have been at her door with flowers bright and early!

I continue to pursue the task of sitting around letting it rest with a vengeance.  I’ve perfected the routine of watching TV on the couch (leg elevated, of course) and started watching The Voice on demand.  I don’t usually watch much TV, but now I’m hooked on it and completely in love with the four coaches (Shakira included.)  I’ve finished a few books and now am juggling three–one left resting by the couch, one by my foam roller (I should give him a name…he’s like a boyfriend or something), and my bed.  I have to fill my time when I should be running!

I ice, slather cream and keep my fingers crossed (I don’t pray–God has more important things to deal with than my puny race dreams.)  It makes me think of my sister a lot, and that helps me to keep things in perspective.  I’m sad to think that months of effort will go for naught, but I know I will heal.  TiffeeG goes through treatments, shots, PT, and many other things all for the hope that she can string together a few great days, with no hope of complete healing in her future.  Every time I think of what AS is like, I stop complaining and wondering whether I will be able to use my training for this specific race.

Still, I admit that I want to run it.  Of course I do.  For me, for my sister…it’s kind of like an offering in my mind.  But if I’m not able to do it and do it to the best of my ability, or if getting through it will likely mean setting myself for months of rest because I pushed things too far, I will sit it out.  I know the people who have donated money will understand, and I know I will try again.  It’s just how I roll.

I have been meaning to write a lengthy post on what it means to define yourself as a runner, and I’m going to go ahead with it here.  People love to wonder what makes a runner.  When is someone a runner?  I think I wrote that question at the beginning of this blog experience, and answered that I “guessed” I was.  I felt like I shouldn’t be blogging unless I “was” a “real” runner.

I’ve heard people say that you are a runner if you put your shoes on and head out the door.  This is a very positive and inclusive statement, which isn’t wrong.  We runners want to encourage others to run–it’s one of the reasons I started this blog.  We want people to find the joy that we have discovered, and the process should be without judgment.  But I don’t think that everyone who heads out today like that is a runner.

I don’t mean that as a slight.  I just feel that people are searching for something by asking that question, and we shouldn’t ignore it.  If you’ve made a decision to start running and you do something like a Couch to 5k program, I am SO happy for you.  I hope you stick with it and run for many years!  But I doubt you’re a runner yet.

Is it speed?  I’ve seen runners (usually those blessed with some speed who get a little arrogant about it) define runners as people who can run faster than a certain pace and anyone else as (sniff!) a jogger.  Of course, that pace is usually pretty speedy.  This misses the point as well, at least in my opinion.  There are plenty of people who run religiously and race all the time that will never hit those paces.  Their bodies aren’t meant to.  Are we to exclude them?  

I did read once that if you can run 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week, under 10:00 per mile, than you are a runner and not a jogger.  The tone of this article, as I recall, was very positive, and maybe that’s why I kind of use that as a definition, but again, it’s not the whole picture.

Would it be so bad to be called “a jogger?”  No, but I think it just sounds so casual, and it turns people off.  And that gets to the heart of what makes a “runner” to me, and what I think people are looking for when they ask that question.

For a runner, running is a passion–not a way to lose weight or jumpstart/keep a healthier lifestyle, not a promise to a friend or a phase.  You are a runner when your heart calls you to run, whether your pace is in the 7s or the 10s.  When you devote yourself to your running because you are not complete without it, you are a runner.  Whether you race or just log miles on your own, on the treadmill or out in the rain with no specific training program, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is the feeling that running gives you.  

It becomes a part of your identity.  You may have just logged 10 miles early in the morning, but you drive by someone running, and you a) want to shout out encouragement, and b) want to go home and put your shoes back on and head out for some more.  You are a runner.

You overcome lazy feelings time and time again to head out because you know that peace is found during your runs, and you know you need that run to put your life back in order.  You are a runner.

When you forego that glass of wine with someone because you are planning to run the next morning and you really don’t want anything to compromise it, even though it’s just a normal run, you are a runner.

And yes, when you are hurt and all you can think about is getting back, not even to race but just to run and be a runner for life, you are a runner.  It’s not pace, and it’s not just time spent doing it.  It’s love mixed with a healthy dose of reverence and respect.  You don’t get it from a Couch to 5k program, but that’s not to put those people down.  They’re just not there yet, but every true runner hopes they’ll get there eventually and join the club.

To people who read this blog and might think about running, I have one thing to say.  Give it a good chance.  Break through that barrier of 3 miles.  The rewards come for those who get past that “I can only run 3 miles and I hate every minute of it” hurdle.  The joy is past that point, but so many people never get there.

To the runners, feel free to add comments or your own definition.  I love to hear from you!

I will keep you posted on my appointment with the therapist, and I thank you again for reading and giving encouragement and advice.  This RUNNER wishes you a happy weekend!

With my family after the Paris half marathon, 2012



3 thoughts on “Am I A Runner?

  1. Yeah! So glad you were able to get an appointment. Ah…and your post. Very good and I think a great way to define if you are a runner. I feel that I may have lost my “I’m a runner” feelings. Yet, when I see people out running I do feel that pull to get out there too, because there is so much I have enjoyed about it. I think I just need to get back into it and as you said, surpass that 3 mile mark again, because I do think there is something to that. Thank you for your “deep thoughts” on this subject and the shout out. 🙂


  2. Oh my dear you are a runner no doubt!! Anyone with the dedication and strength that you have shown is a runner. To run when you are in Vegas and in one of the worst snow storms is a runner!! I am so proud to be your sister, you are amazing and did I mention you are a runner???

    Love you!!


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