We have all seen the motivational posters proclaiming that no matter how far you go or how fast you run, you’re still a runner.
They say this sentiment is true. I’m not saying it’s not and I would never tell another soul they were not a runner, but for me and my running journey that statement was incomplete.
When I first started running, I did not feel like a runner. I did not see myself as a runner. I felt like an out of shape, overweight, middle aged guy who had lost touch with his fitness. Strapping on my running shoes, for the first time in years, I couldn’t wait to get the miles minutes that I had to run over with. “Are we there yet?” I felt very awkward in my skin and my gait. What should have been natural seemed abnormal to me. While running along the open roads I felt strange, foreign and I was sure everyone who saw me knew I was trying to do something which I was not very good at. I longed to be a runner, and maybe I was because I was running but I did not feel like it.
Then along the way something happened.
I first felt like a runner when I noticed I looked forward to my running days. I missed my run when it was a recovery day. I found I was disappointed when the run was over. I felt like a runner when I had enough confidence in my stride and in myself that I ran outside with pride. I identified as a runner when the distance in my training plan no longer intimidated me, it may have been a new pace or a new long run distance but I knew I could handle it. I was aware I was a runner when I felt at home with “my people” when standing at the starting line of a local race. I had become the runner I wanted to be when I saw myself in the mirror and saw a runner looking back at me.
Being a runner is not tied to distance, speed, weight, ability, fancy clothes, shoes or running gadgets.
You ARE a runner if you have the desire…
For some of us that transformation did not take place on the first day of our running life. For some of us we had to grow into our runner self.
When did you first feel like a runner?