A recent conversation with someone pissed me off. I have had similar conversations before this one with other people, and they have had to do with the definition of a runner. We were discussing another runner’s time in a long distance run. I said something about how long it would take me to run the same distance, about an hour longer. This person stated, “Yes, but he’s a runner.” ….pause… “Well, I mean you’re a runner too but you know what I mean.” No, actually I do NOT know. I was actually kind of shocked by the comment since this person knows how much I run.
So first of all, since 2006 I have completed 21 races, which included 8 half marathons and one 30km run (that one in pouring cold rain-yuck!). Therefore, I have logged thousands of kilometres of training runs since 2006. According to my Nike records since mid 2010 I have logged 1,339.18 km and that was with some big non-running periods in there when I focused on cycling, and a few months when I just didn’t feel like running. I also run sometimes without any gizmos, so there’s no record of those runs.
I have also had several running related injuries: planter fasciitis, IT band syndrome, morton’s neuroma. I’ve recovered from all of those, and learned stretches and exercises to prevent further injuries.
All that said, I don’t think anyone has to run as far as I have or suffer injuries to be able to call themselves a runner. Nor do I think you have to be fast, which I am not. That brings me back to the comment above. Was the comment because I am not a FAST runner? No, I’m not fast but really the vast majority of runners will never win a race, and even if you do win that still doesn’t mean that winning a local small city race will make you competitive enough for the Olympics, not by a long shot. I think there are runners and then there are professional runners.
I really don’t care about my speed compared to others. I like to compare my time to my previous times but even then I don’t beat myself up about it. I like to run; it makes me feel good and keeps my heart healthy, which is very important given my family history of heart disease. I also know that I have limitations on the speed I’ll be able to achieve. Everyone’s body is different. For example, I can do pushups from my toes, and I can do so with fairly little effort. I know some women that struggle with pushups from their knees and they work very hard at building strength to be able to do a pushup from their toes. In the same way, some people are just naturally faster runners. But that’s no reason to disregard my efforts as runner, and I don’t disregard other people’s efforts to build strength. We all start from a different place and work towards OUR best.
I don’t like to hear other runners say they are not a ‘real’ runner. If you’re out there pounding the pavement or logging mileage on a dreadmill, I don’t care the speed or the walk breaks taken… you can call yourself a runner.
I am a runner.