When I started running a couple of months ago, one of the things I would say to people when talking to them about my aspirations of running a Disney event was, “When I become a runner…” I didn’t have any specific moment in time at which point I would magically turn into a runner, but I was very sure that a runner did not look like me. I am overweight, and when I started this running adventure, I could barely “run” at a speed of 3.5 on the treadmill for 60 seconds. I guess I was thinking I would need to lose a significant amount of weight and increase my fitness level dramatically, and maybe then I could be a runner.
Here’s the thing though, I am a runner. According to Merriam-Webster, a runner is someone who runs, either for exercise, as a part of a sport, or who participates in races.
Well, so let’s see here. I do run for exercise, three times per week, walking for longer time periods three other days of the week. Additionally, I have already participated in my first 5K, so, I ran in a race. I am signed up for several races over the next year, ranging from 5K up to and including some runDisney challenges such as the Glass Slipper Challenge and the Pixie Dust Challenge. (of course! Have you seen the picture on the top of my blog?!) I can say affirmatively yes, I run in races. So, while I do not participate in any sort of sport that requires running (other than running itself) I reckon that means I am a runner!
Well isn’t that special? No really! When I came to the realization that I could call myself a runner and not feel like I had to say when I become a runner it was an incredibly positive feeling. Do I look like what someone visualizes when they think of a runner, all sleek, slender and gazelle-like? No. Does that make me any less of a runner? No. One of the themes I have seen over and over in various contexts while eagerly perusing running blogs the past fews months is: everyone has to run their own race. Well, my race may not be as fast as the next person’s, I may be doing walk-run intervals, and there may be all sorts of jiggling body parts that are best ignored, but I am just as much of a runner as someone doing their 20th marathon.
One thing I can say helped me feel good about becoming a runner was the support I felt from others (formerly known to me as real runners). I participated in a 5K with my coworkers, and as I was chugging along, definitely walking more than jogging, I felt so much positive energy. The runners who were passing me going the opposite direction to finish their race while I was really just getting started were very encouraging. I heard many murmurs of “Way to go!” and “Good job, keep going!” and it made me feel like I really could do it. Much as I had steeled myself for nasty looks or rude comments, I didn’t experience any of that. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE that. The running community really seems, by and large, to be really nice people. I know from experience that is not always the case in athletic pursuits.
I am a runner. I say this to myself several times a day, including when I am taping up my knees with kinesiology tape and climbing on the treadmill to push myself a little bit harder every day. I say it to myself when I am passing up food that is not good for me and would sabotage my efforts at improving myself. I don’t worry about what someone else might think of me when I say it and they look at me and wonder what in the world I am talking about. I am a runner, and I will run each of my races my way, the best I can, just like the person who wins the race, and the one who comes in last. We are all real runners.
***Editing this entry because I am adding a link to this post on My No Guilt Life which is a blog I love to read, and she is definitely inspiring and worth checking out!!