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Came across this on Facebook today… from a pretty active, fit friend:

“I have come to the conclusion you’re either a “runner” or you’re not. I going to have to say I’m in the “not” category. Saturday should be interesting. I definitely won’t be first and possibly last… but I’ll finish.”

I am not sure what she is training for, but it made my little runner’s heart so sad to read it. I love running so much and I hate to see that others are trying, and haven’t found the love  yet. I have seen that, with patience and time, the love usually comes. Certainly, some of us are FAST runners, and others not. But I truly believe that just about anyone who is able-bodied can run, and even enjoy parts of it, if not the whole thing. To me, her determination just to reach the finish line already says ‘runner’ to me! From the outside, I’d say this girl is a runner.

But, feeling like a runner, I understand, is an entirely different story. I said for the longest time that I wasn’t a ‘real’ runner, and oh, there were any number of reasons why in my head, that was the truth. I hadn’t run as a kid, or done any sports for that matter. I don’t have that lithe, long look of the first ones in at the end of the race. I am not fast. I hadn’t completed longer distance races. So, even though I was running, I didn’t do certain things that “real runners” are told to do. I only did basic stretching. Didn’t own a foam roller. Didn’t do a lot of speedwork. Those were all things for REAL runners. I had completed a bunch of races–including five half-marathons, spent countless hours on the road, and dropped minutes off my pace-per-mile through hard training and the weight I lost (through running!). But oh no, I’d be the first to tell you, I was not really a runner.

To some people, they become a runner the minute they walk out the door and take off. Some, the first time they get fitted for shoes. Others, at the end of their first solid mile without walking. My friend Cris had to run a marathon to feel like a ‘real’ runner.

Me, I owned my Real Runner Status when I got hurt. I got hurt FROM RUNNING. And when it forced me off the road, and to figure out what was going wrong, and made me jones like a drug addict pine for running again… well, that’s when I decided I was a runner. And then I realized I had been a runner for quite some time, and I sorely regretted not taking it more seriously, taking care of myself as a runner, and even lending knowledge from people who were becoming runners, but needed help getting comfortable in the sport.

Me after my first 5k. It took another 3.5 years to decide I was a runner.

I SAY:

If you’re running… you’re a runner. And that’s just one of the beauties of running! You can go on to be so many things, at different times or sometimes at once: An occasional runner. An addicted runner. A fast 5k runner. A happy half-marathoner. A tech-obsessed runner. A no-tech runner. A thinner-than-you-used-to-be runner. A jogging stroller-pushing runner. A recovering-from-injury runner. A smart runner. A slow runner. There are so many ways to be a runner! But owning it is key. Own it! And the sooner, the better!

(And P.S. If it’s your pace-per-mile that’s making you not identify as a runner… do some speedwork. If you’re new to it, I recommend fartleks. You CAN train your body to go faster.)

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