Lately I have been struggling with whether I am still a runner or not. I used to think that being a runner was running fast and training for a marathon. My identity was completely tied up in being the fastest runner, the most experienced runner, running marathons and qualifying for Boston. I started running races in my 20’s and like many other people had no idea who I was. Running helped me figure that out. As I fell deeply in love with the sport and began meeting and treating runners of all shapes and sizes I realized that being a runner is so much more than being fast or running a marathon. It is about friendships, taking care of yourself, feeling good and maybe even a little competition. The point? It is different for everyone.
Some of you may have read my recent blog: How My May Have Garmin Saved My Life. In that blog I explained that I am currently having heart issues and have to keep my heart rate at 130 BPM or lower so that my heart doesn’t go crazy and put my life in danger. This experience has yet again given me a new perspective on life and running.
What I have realized
A runner is someone that has the guts to put on running shoes and jog out the door. It does not matter how fast or slow you run. It only matters that you are out there putting one foot in front of the other. Today I ran 4 miles without stopping! I used to easily run between 7:00-8:00 minute mile but today I plotted along at my 12 minute mile pace and I was ecstatic because I was running rather than walking. I still am a runner.
You don’t have to run a marathon to be a runner. I have clients that come in to see me all that time that say “I run 3-4 miles, a few times a week, but I’m not really a runner.” To that I say: “WHAT!! Yes you are!” You are running what about that doesn’t make you a runner? I am no longer running marathons, doing triathlon or even 10ks. But I am running, I still am a runner.
I dream about running. I dream about the freedom it allows and the calm it brings. Being a runner is a state of mind. If you believe you are a runner then you are. There are no running police that track down the imposters because there are no imposters. I still am a runner.
After I finish my run I am completely satisfied for 10 minutes then I start planning when I can get my next run in. Will I get up early tomorrow morning? Will I run in the afternoon with the running stroller? Maybe I will go after my son goes to bed. I still am a runner.
I plan what I am going to eat to make me more efficient and track my water intake so that I don’t get dehydrated and can manage my heart rate the next time I run. I even calculate how many minutes of running equals 1 chocolate chip cookie. I still am a runner.
Although it may have taken me years, what I have realized is that runners can be slow or they can be fast. They don’t have to “look” a certain way; they don’t even have to sign up for any races. A runner might run 5 miles a week or 50 miles a week. To be a runner all you have to do is run. If you have been thinking about running and are afraid to because “you aren’t a runner,” my guess is you are- so come join us!
Now to answer my own question: “Am I still a runner?” Oh yes, yes I am!