Why would you tirelessly put in the effort and hard work into running consistently and deprive yourself of identifying as a runner? There are no rules to running! You don’t have to be great at it to call yourself a runner.
I totally get not wanting to call yourself a runner when you first start. It’s still new and you don’t really know where you stand with it. I refused to call myself a runner when I was at the starting line of my first half marathon, even though I had just run 5 days a week for 12 weeks straight, and when I crossed the finish line I still didn’t want to call myself a runner. I knew I really enjoyed running and it did so much for me physically and emotionally, but I wasn’t sure I would remain dedicated once I finished my race.
Well, it’s been two years since I crossed that first finish line and here I am still running. The first time I called myself a runner was in my head while I was running my third half marathon last May. I was on mile 11, so incredibly miserable and I thought “I’ve been running for a year and a half and I just ran up treacherous hills for six miles in the rain and I want to quit but I’m still going. I’m a runner.”
I think many of the reasons why I didn’t call myself a runner for so long are the same reasons why so many other runners struggle with it as well.
“But I’m not an athlete!”
Not having an athletic background is probably the most intimidating thing ever when you decide to start running. It still kind of lingers in the back of my mind sometimes when I’m at the gym or even at a starting line.
When I was in the midst of my training for my first half marathon, everyone at my job knew about it because someone would always see me outside running. They started identifying me as a runner simply because they saw my consistency in it. They didn’t think about how long I’d been doing it or how fast or slow I was. They definitely didn’t think about me hiding in the bathroom during gym class. The longer I ran the more I realized I wasn’t an impostor, and neither are you. If we’re putting the time, miles, dedication and hard work into running we deserve to identify ourselves as runners.
I think not being athletic makes you even braver for deciding to run. Putting one foot in front of the other when you have no idea what you’re doing or if you can even do it is the gutsiest and most awesome thing in the world to me. Stop selling yourself short!
“I don’t look like a runner, so I can’t call myself one.”
Okay. Put yourself at the starting line at any race and you’ll realize whatever you think the stereotypical runner’s body is doesn’t actually exist. There are people of all shapes and sizes making it across the finish line, not one of them looking identical to the other. The only runner’s body that I’m familiar with is the one that’s strong enough to finish a run. Take the focus off of what your body looks like and focus on what your body can physically do.
“I’m not a real runner because I’m slow.”
I’m calling myself out with this one. I’m not fast by any means. I’ve worked up to being comfortable holding any where from a 10:54 to 10:00 pace. That’s not the point though. Running is a part of my routine and it’s a big part of who I am. You don’t need to be an elite runner to call yourself a runner. You just have to be consistent.
I don’t care how fast or how slow you run, what you look like or how long you’ve been running.
If you have an athletic background and now you run, you’re a runner. If you grew up getting hit in the face with a dodge ball in gym class like me but now you run…guess what? You’re a runner. If you’re 110 pounds with a six pack and you run, you’re a runner. If you’re 230 pounds and can’t recall ever having a flat stomach but you’re still out there running, you’re a runner. If it takes you five minutes to run a mile, congrats! You’re a runner. If it takes you 20 minutes to run a mile but you’re out there doing it all the time, you’re still a runner.