Thursday, February 6, 2014

Yes, you ARE a real runner

What are your running pet peeves? This is my top one at the moment:

Ever said these words (or something similar): Well, I'm not a REAL runner....
  • I'm not a REAL runner, I don't/can't run X pace.
  • I'm not a REAL runner, I don't/can't run X distance.
  • I'm not a REAL runner, I don't/can't run X pace for X distance.
  • I'm not a REAL runner, I don't get up to run early.
  • I'm not a REAL runner, I take walk breaks from time to time.
  • I'm not a REAL runner, I just started a couch-to-5k-program.
  • I'm not a REAL runner, I don't look like (insert a local runner) _______, and he/she IS a REAL runner.

Get the idea?

Can we all agree to stop this? My female running buddies especially?

I single us out ladies because I can't say I've ever heard one of my male runner friends say those words, at least not out loud.  Perhaps men feel those things in different ways, but since I have very little understanding of the male psyche, and frankly find it dangerous territory to speculate on, I will talk primarily to my female friends. And to myself.


Don't get me wrong, I completely understand the sentiment behind it.  I've said and felt some of those same things, too.  Whether we're willing to admit it or not, yes, we measure ourselves against others, especially in running when there are (sometimes painfully) clear benchmarks of time and distance to do the measuring.  Many of us make it black and white: Real runners run 13.1 or 26.2. Real runners run under 8/10/12 min/miles.  Real runners run 4-5 days a week or more.

We arbitrarily define "real", and then kick ourselves when we we don't measure up.  Am I real? Am I not real?

Does that last question strike you as ridiculous as it does me?

Perhaps as a newer couch-to-5k runner you encounter the friend training for a 1/2 marathon and feel like what your doing is paltry compared to 13.1 miles.  You'll be "real" when you can do a 1/2.  Perhaps as a marathon runner you see other runners in your group or locally at races and think, "Hey, I'll be a real runner when I can run a 5/4/3 hour marathon like them!" Maybe as someone who enjoys running for fitness and enjoyment after work you think, "I'm not a real runner, I don't ever run a race".

Ummm, no.

For the sake of our collective, often fragile female conscious, let's simplify this people and spare ourselves a lot of grief, ok?

How to know if you are a real runner
I'm a visual person and thought this might help.  If you are real, and you run, you ARE a real runner.  Simple.  Done.

Notice my silly diagram says nothing about how fast you run, or how far you run, or what time of day you run, or what you look like while you run.  Oh, and thank goodness we do not have to look like Ridiculously Photogenic Guy to be considered a runner!!

Ridiculously Photogenic Guy: making running look WAY too easy!!
So, to wrap up my attempt to be your cheerleader in your running endeavors, if you're out running, even with some walk breaks, even huffing and puffing, even starting a couch-to-5k program, even with no desire to run a marathon, even if you only get out one day a week for fun after work, even if you aren't the fastest in the group, you ARE a runner.

And I bet your life is much more fulfilling and empowered for being one, too.