I first wrote a post called “Am I A Runner Yet” in May 0f 2012. This is a continuation of the thoughts in that post.
Am I a Runner?
Many people run but not everyone who runs considers themselves a runner. Some people feel they are not “a runner” because they do not race, only run a few days a week or only jog occasionally. Am I a runner, are you a runner, and what makes us runners?
We are all natural-born runners; our bodies are designed to run. Everywhere you go, you will see able-bodied children running around. They run on the playground, at the park and often in our homes. It is difficult to keep a child from running. To them it is natural and fun. There is nothing forced about it and children certainly do not “work” at it.
Are they runners? Are they not runners because they don’t race or have any idea how long a 5K is? Of course they are runners! They embody the spirit of running as much as, if not more so, than any adult. To them running is freedom and joy; it is play and is as natural as breathing.
My point is that our bodies and our spirit are made for running and this is manifested early in our lives. Even as adults, each of us has a runner inside of us. Some of us are natural athletes, and some of us barely possess the mechanical ability to put one foot in front of the other. But the ability to be a runner is there.
You are not alone
I know many people who have run multiple races and who run on a regular basis but do not consider themselves “runners”. It is as if the word had some exalted meaning that they feel unworthy of claiming for themselves. It is as if they felt saying “I am a runner” even to themselves would burden them with some rights, responsibility or duties that they did not feel worthy or capable of.
When I first started running I did not consider myself a runner either. I was just a guy poking around blindly at this thing called running. Runners were different from me. They ran. They knew what they were doing and they ran races. I didn’t know anything and I only ran when I was lucky enough to get a Boston Marathon number.
Perception is Reality
It’s funny the stories we tell our selves and what other people see and think about us. While I was training for the 2003 Boston Marathon I was fat, dumb and happy going along for the ride into something I knew nothing about. I wasn’t a runner; I was blithely running at lunch and training for one of the biggest running events in the world!
The Thursday or Friday before Marathon Monday, Carol, one of my colleagues at HP, kept asking me when I was going out for my run. “You know you need to keep training”, “The Marathon is this Monday, isn’t it?” I finally finished what I was working on and went out for my run. It was probably 5 miles. Carol tended to be motherly and I thought it was nice of her to take an interest in my race preparations.
When I got back to my work area I discovered that while I was out doing the run that Carol thought was so important for me to get in, my team had set up a party for me! They had some food and drinks and everyone had a small gift for me! I was totally surprised and deeply touched. I don’t remember all of the gifts but some of them were handmade and very creative.
These people all saw me as a runner. They saw me go out running several days a week, they saw me hanging out with the other runners in the office and they knew I had a number for the 2003 Boston Marathon. I guess if I saw some guy doing all of these things I would start to think that they were a runner also.
While I did not think that running three days a week made me a runner, everyone around me did. While I did not think that getting a number to run in The Boston Marathon meant I was a runner, to everyone else it did.
My first foray into running was a bit crazy, and just happened out of sheer luck. I did not decide one day to become a runner; it just happened over time. My friends, colleagues and family thought of me as a runner way before I did.
By nature you are a runner. Even if you have not run since high school gym class, you are a runner. If you have been trying to start running or thinking about starting running you can call yourself a runner. Do not concern yourself with how often you run or how far you run. You were born to run and it is part of your fiber.
The call to Action
I know that most people who read this blog lead active lifestyles. They probably consider themselves runners, cyclist, swimmers or triathletes. The fact that they participate in and train for an activity allows them to define themselves as a runner, swimmer, dancer, etc.
If you are not one of these people I hope this message rings true to you. Just because you do not own a pair of running shoes today and have no idea how far a mile walk will take you, does not mean that you are not a runner. There is a runner inside of you waiting to be discovered.
I encourage you to discover the runner inside of you. Being active is a joyful part of life. Do not miss one of the joys of life because you feel unworthy of calling yourself a runner. You possess the ability to move, to walk and to run. You are worthy and you deserve the joy that running can bring to your life.
Run well my friends,