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SO, YOU'RE A RUNNER?

SO, YOU'RE A RUNNER?

    And if you're someone who has ever been put in that awkward position/conversation, then you already know that yes that question mark is for sure said (and heard) loud and clear. Many people, including myself, struggle at various points in their running and fitness journey to get to a place where they are comfortable calling themselves a "runner." It feels too official, fake, or like some grandiose title that is only for the best of the best. So, having to justify that yes you are indeed a "runner" to someone else who may not be one themselves (but thinks they know the makings of a runner when they see one) is quite possibly one of the toughest moments in a person's running journey. Like, if you can't even convince yourself that you are one, how the heck are you supposed to convince anyone else?

    You see, somewhere along the line society as a whole deemed running a super serious sport that was only for the most brutally tough athletes with just the right combination of speed, endurance, and athleticism. People began to associate running and runners with elite runners like Steve Prefontaine or Shalane Flanagan. Olympic caliber, marathon level athletes. Thing became very black and white in terms of what it meant and looked like to be a runner. You either fit the mold or you didn't. Period. Even in the year 2018, many people (average joes and people who run regularly) still believe that this mold holds true. You're either born a runner or you're not. Running's not for everyone. Isn't running bad for your knees? The list goes on. Well, I'm calling bullshit on all of this.

    It doesn't matter whether you're a 6 minute miler or a back of the pack runner. It doesn't matter the distance you run or the time it takes you to do it. Whether you run 7 days a week or 3. Whether you follow a serious training plan or run for fun. YOU ARE A RUNNER. The only qualifications you need are a pair of sneakers, a road/treadmill/track to run on, and sheer will and determination to get out there and move your legs and arms in unison. That's it. No fancy GPS watch or $300 running shoes required. Just you and the road (or treadmill). It doesn't matter if you've been running for 6 days or 6 years, you're still just as much a part of the running community. And you'll be just as annoyed/pissed off/or beaten down by all the preconceived notions that everyone else (even fellow runners) have about what it means to be a runner.

    Let's start with the reason(s) behind running, your "why." It is and always will be different for every person. Maybe you made a new years resolution to get healthy, lose weight, or start exercising regularly. Or, maybe you run to relieve stress. Or for the adrenaline rush you get from nailing a new PR. Whatever the reason, it's highly likely that won't be you're only reason for running for the rest of your life. You lose the weight, learn to cope with life's never ending stress, you find that just running for time is no longer fulfilling. So, you find you're new why in a new goal or a new focus for your running journey. Now, contrast this to the image that the vast majority of non-runners see as the main reasons why people run: It's fun. You want to be/stay skinny. You're crazy. All reasons that many who have run regularly for awhile will tell you just don't cut it when it comes to getting out the door and running when you have zero motivation to do it and/or the weather is absolute crap.

    Moving on, what a runner looks like...to someone who isn't a runner. Way back when I had running and virtually any form of physical activity, I to fell victim to believing that anyone and everyone who was a runner was stick thin with long gazelle like legs and ran super fast. Like Usain Bolt fast. This, however, is simply not the case. Runners come in all shapes, sizes, races, and ages. You can't just tell from looking at someone that they are a runner. It is never, (like seriously EVER) okay to be that person who makes the offhand comment that someone is "too big to be a runner" or "doesn't look like the typical runner." Because guess what, it takes a whole hell of a lot of physical and mental strength to get to a place as a runner where you don't hate ever minute of it and are confident in your abilities as a runner. And the face that one single person, with one rude/insensitive comment, can away all of that from you is complete garbage. So, be aware that there is no typical shape/size when it comes to what runners looks lie.

    One of the more surprising things I have learned since I first started running seriously during my sophomore year of high school is that not everyone is in it for the races/racing/medals etc. Which seemed super weird to me at initially. Like, why be so consistent and so focused on your training if you're not training for some race or end goal. I always felt like once I got to the point that I could call myself a "runner" I would be that person running like a million races and posting all about it on social media. However, at 22 years of age and 6 years into my running journey, I can tell you that it's not all about the races. Yeah, I've done a handful of 5ks and competed in cross country for a season. But, still, I am not a huge fan of races, unless it involves running with multiple people you know or some type of huge/scary/unattainable goal like a half or full marathon.

    Finally, I feel like a lot of people who don't run just assume that one you get into it, running actually gets easier/is easy in general. False. It never, ever gets easier. Yeah, you have days where it feels less difficult and more fun, but still...never easy. Also, running fast doesn't come naturally to most people. Neither does running long distances. You have to work your ass off both physically and mentally to be able to push yourself both distance and pace wise. You don't just run for awhile and magically get faster. It takes hard work, consistency, dedication, time, and a whole lot of belling in yourself when things get tough and you feel like throwing in the towel. You alternate between loving it one mile and absolutely despising it the next.

    In conclusion, (since I know there are for sure going to be "those people who read this) the idea for this post did in fact just randomly come to me. This post is not about any specific people or persons. This is just me putting the information out there so people aren't complete assholes in there interactions with many of the new runners who just took the activity up recently as a new years resolution or just to simply see what it's all about. And, to just open people's eyes up to the fact that not all runners are alike and just because you know someone is a runner, doesn't mean you have them completely figured out as a person...or even a runner for that matter.

    I can't end this post without sending out a specific message to all those people (whether you've just started running or have been doing it for awhile) who struggle with the concept of calling themselves a "runner." I know how you feel, I've been there and it sucks. Big time. But, don't let your pace, distance, or level of consistency define you. You are more than the distance you run or the speed you do it at. You are someone who laces up there shoes and has the courage to get outside your comfort zone. You're a runner and no one can take that away from you.
TAKING A STEP BACK // SELF-REFLECTION

TAKING A STEP BACK // SELF-REFLECTION

BLAME IT ON THE ALCOHOL

BLAME IT ON THE ALCOHOL