When I went to pick up my race kit for May 11th’s Sporting Life 10k, I overheard these two young ladies chatting as they decided on if they wanted to make a purchase or not. This was their exchange:
Girl 1: Are you going to buy anything?
Girl 2: I wanna buy a hat
Girl 1: Why?
Girl 2: So I feel more legit at the race
And it was those last words that stuck out to me. Did her purchasing a hat to run in qualify her as a “legit” runner? What makes someone a real runner? Those who run a sub-15 5k? Those who run sub-1:30 half marathon? Those with the newest shoe models? Those running to compete instead of at the gym to lose weight? Those with rock solid abs and sponsorships? It seems as if that is what is interpreted as being a “real” runner…but is that really what it means?
For a while, I’ve struggled to call myself a runner because I was running 30 minute 5ks when the people I saw to be “runners” ran it in 15-18 minutes. I felt slow in comparison and it made me feel that to be a real runner I had to be fast. I saw myself as not a “real” runner but as someone who ran. Was I just pretending to be a runner? A fake runner of some sort? I felt that if I labelled myself a runner I was setting myself up for failure in the sense I’d be less of a runner if someone faster comes around.
It took me a few races to even call myself a runner. However, I’ve come to terms that I may not be as fast or knowledgeable as an elite runner but I am a “real” runner. I am a “real” runner because I run. My sweat is real, my muscle soreness is real, and the miles I’ve accumulated are real. I feel as if the words “real” are confused with “serious.” Maybe some of us don’t feel like “real” runners because we’re not training seriously for something and are running recreationally instead. However, that doesn’t make us a fake runner, recreational runners are still “real” runners because they are real people and they run. So I propose that in situations where you wonder to yourself if you’re a runner or not, you come to a full stop because if you’re running, you are a runner. And if you still doubt yourself, think of this quote from Bart Yasso
I often hear people say, “I’m not a real runner.” We are all runners, some just run faster than others, that’s all. I have never met a fake runner.
Thank you are reading my little ramble about this! This has been stuck on my mind for the last few days ever since I overheard that exchange.
What’s your opinion on this? Are you a “runner”?