It was the first time she’d joined our Friday playgroup, and I didn’t know her well. As we were standing in the kitchen together, she struck up a conversation. Noticing my shirt she said, “Oh! You must be a runner!”
I froze. What do I say?! How do I answer?! If I say “yes” will she laugh and tell me why I’m not?
So I just brushed it off with a laugh saying, “Oh, I just pretend to run.”
What? What kind of ridiculous answer is that?! Why is it so hard to say “yes, I’m a runner”? For some reason, that conversation has been on my mind lately, I’ve been thinking over why it’s so hard for me to tell people I run. So many of us have an idea of what a “real runner” is, and if we don’t live up to that, we’re obviously not a runner. So after a thoroughly scientific study (haha!) I’ve come up with 4 reasons we have a hard time calling ourselves a runner.
I’m too slow
This is a huge one for people. All of us have an idea in our heads as to what pace a “real runner” runs at. For me, it’s a 10 minute mile. Why? Because when I first stepped foot in my gym, hopped on a treadmill ready to start my C25k program, I looked at the treadmill console and saw a million buttons. Right front and center though, were 3 buttons: walk (2mph), jog (4mph), and run (6mph). So naturally, when it was time for my 30 seconds of running, I pushed the “run” button. It nearly killed me 😉 It took nearly 2 two weeks to realize it was way too fast for me, and I needed to slow down. Ever since then, I’ve had the idea that in order to be a real runner, I have to run at least 10 minute miles. Thankfully, I’ve at least figured out that when you’re an overweight couch potato, you’re not going to be able to start out at that speed, that it’ll take time to get there!
Speed is relative, and unless you’re Usain Bolt, there’s going to be someone faster than you! There are so many factors that come into play to determine how fast a person goes; genetics, experience, weight, diet, and so much more! It’s hard to remember though, when you’re browsing through Instagram, seeing everyone posting their paces. Just remember, they all started somewhere! If you run, you’re a runner. Plain and simple. There’s no speed requirement to join the club =)
2. I Don’t Look Like a Runner
I would venture to guess, that a large portion of people who start running, do so for weight loss and/or maintenance. That’s why I started! When we picture a runner, we probably picture all the athletes we see competing at the Olympics. Whether it’s the lean distance runner, or the strong track runner, there’s a specific body image we associate with runners. The reality is, runners come in all shapes and sizes. If you want some encouragement, follow Ihavearunnersbody on Instagram, or check out the associated hashtag: #ihavearunnersbody I really appreciate the way she is working to show that if you run, you have a runner’s body.
3. I’m Not Athletic
In my high school, there were three sports available: basketball, football, and volleyball. In an effort to make friends at a new school, I joined the girls basketball and volleyball teams. I was horrible. Really horrible. I always enjoyed the running part of practice though, or running a mile during gym class, but I had no idea people ran just for fun. Whenever I saw people out running I assumed they were running as part of their training for a sport. I didn’t know there were such things as road races that “normal” people could take part in.
I didn’t start running until I was an adult, and by that point the number of recreational runners and road races had increased dramatically. Which was a good thing for me, because that meant I had a ton of resources available to me! Even still, I think it’s hard for many people to see that you didn’t have to have been an “athlete” in high school or collage to be a runner today. And really, with it’s increased popularity, running is seen more and more as a sport. So if you run, you’re an athlete!
4. I Take Walking Breaks
Most of us who start out running, didn’t just get up and run 3 miles. It took time to get there. Couch to 5K and other similar programs use intervals to gradually increase your running time until you’re running a set number of minutes or a distance. Which is a very smart way of doing it, but I think it also sets up the mindset that you’re not really running until you no longer take walking breaks. That was my mindset until I decided to tackle a half marathon. In researching popular training plans, I came across Jeff Galloway’s method of walk-run intervals. After reading his book, it made me realize that taking walking breaks while running could be extremely beneficial. Purposefully placed walking breaks can help your body gain a little bit of rest, allowing you to run longer without tiring. Chances are, many runners do this without thinking about it. Slowing down to a walk when approaching an intersection, walking through aid stations at a race, little things like those that allow our body a small break. Walking breaks can be a very strategic part of running, and not something to look down at.
I’m sure there are many other reasons people hesitate to call themselves a runner, but the truth of the matter is: if you run, you’re a runner! It may not always be easy to remember, and obviously I struggle with this too, but it’s something we need to remember.
What about you? Do you find it easy to call yourself a runner?