I believe it's time to redefine what it means to be a runner. If you run, then you’re a runner.
If you’re like me, I believed being a ‘runner’ meant that you had to: run fast, run every day, never walk, had to have run X distance, among other things. It took me a long time to actually call myself a runner and I hope I can help you get there a lot faster than I did.
My Little Secret – A Personal Story
After I fell in love with running and racing during my first 5k in 2013, that should have been it. I should have been able to call myself a runner with confidence. Instead, it became my little secret. I felt I couldn’t tell anyone that I was a runner because I didn’t meet any of the above criteria. I certainly wasn’t fast, I didn’t run every day, I walked almost half the distance I set out for myself, and the farthest I had gone was 3 miles. I talked myself into believing that once I hit certain milestones like: being able to run a 7min mile, run 10 miles for fun, etc. that I would begin telling people that I was a runner. As I continued my secret running, I realized it would be a LONG time before any of those milestones came into view. A few races later and then I accidentally forgot about my secret and posted a finish line picture of myself on my personal Instagram. I got so many (positive) messages/comments of congratulations and people saying how they had no clue I was a runner! I had an equal rush of embarrassment and relief because people finally knew and actually referred to me as a runner! Then I got ‘the question.’ The question of: “What was your time?” Still to this day, I hate this question. I feel like the only reason someone wants an answer to this question is so that they can make a (personal!) judgment on YOUR running. Like: Am I putting you in the BQ (Boston Qualifying) box, or are you slow? I could be completely wrong, but that’s how I interpret this question. Anyways, I stood my ground because I was so proud of my accomplishment, regardless of my time. That’s when it finally clicked. Why should I let others determine when I’m considered a runner? How fast (or slow) anyone else runs makes no difference on how fast or slow I run.
You’re a Runner. No Qualifying Statements Needed.
Runners come in all shapes, sizes, distances, and speeds, and the only thing that defines what it means to be a runner is how YOU run. There are many ways to achieve your goals, but whether you achieve those goals or not, does not define or change your status as a runner. Instead of saying “I want to become a better runner” try saying “I have some running goals I’d like to achieve.” This changes your frame of mind from being a ‘bad’ runner and you need to get better, to something more positive like working towards a goal. This mindset shift is so important throughout your running journey, but especially in the beginning.
I hope this gave you a little more confidence to start calling yourself a runner and to focus on your journey! Happy running!