Tuesday, April 3, 2018

GUEST POST: "I'm Not A Runner... Am I?" by Kat

When Kat suggested covering this topic I was so excited to read her post. You see, the hubby and I had a conversation a couple weeks about this exact thing... He said it was only recently that he started seeing himself as a runner. Sure, he had run multiple half marathons and would go out for a few miles every other day, but it was something he was doing because he knew I loved it. Well, he recently realized that not only does he enjoy it himself now, but if he is spending multiple hours doing the activity he better start claiming it. Everyone has their own journey to take when becoming a runner. Here's Kat's:

“I’m not a runner”

My catch cry, whenever anyone would ask me about my running.

I ran a mile – I’m not a runner. My first 3-miler, I’m not a runner. My first 6? Nope, still not a runner! My first half marathon distance? Of course I’m not a runner, I just run a little bit. My trail runs? Well, I walked some, so no, no, I’m not a runner.


I started regularly attending parkrun events (a free, weekly timed 5K run popular throughout Australia and the UK). I subscribed to a running magazine. People would ask me about my running. “I’m not really a runner,” I would tell them.

I started comparing my times with those who ran a 5K in under 20 minutes. They were runners. I compared my times with people who came after me, because they were runners. After all, they looked effortless, and me? Well, I ran like this:

As my distances increased, as my runs became more regular, I started waiting for the excuse that would ultimately lead me to stop running. Since I knew “I wasn’t a runner” I was just waiting for the self-fulfilling prophecy to ring true.

But then something happened. January I ran... a lot. A huge amount of distance, more than I thought possible. And my brain changed. I ran long distances, short distances. I ran to switch off after work, I ran to switch on before work. I stopped caring about pace or distance. I ran on the road, I ran on trails, I ran on the sand. I ran solo, I ran with people. I simply ran.

And like Kelly Roberts often suggests, I took all the selfies to prove it!

And just like that, I became a runner. Not with the actual action of running, but with the change of my mindset.


As I started talking to other runners, I realized many of us have the same voice inside. We seem to say something along the lines of, “I’m not a runner, I mean, I run a little, but no, I’m not a runner.” What I think we’re really saying is “I’m sorry.” “I'm sorry I don’t look like the quintessential runner. I don’t have a typical runner’s body, long swishy hair, a perfect smile or insta-abs.” “I'm sorry, because I'm not fast, I don’t run far enough, or hard enough, and I’ll never place in a race.”


I know that's what I was saying. And I often see the underlying apology in the #BadAssLadyGang Facebook group when we ask a question or share an achievement, “I know this isn’t very far for you, I’m not a runner, but I just ran my first 5K!”

Too often we get caught up in what a runner is. We allow ourselves to fall into the trap that if we don’t fit a certain aesthetic we aren’t “real” runners – we equate being with looking, when the fact is they’re two very different things.

And now I have a new rule for you. If you can run an Olympic distance, you're a runner. You don’t have to qualify, just run it. The best news? 100 meters is an Olympic distance. So go grab your shoes, and run that 100 meters, you runner, you.


And me? I'm right there along with so many of you, but I have to start practicing what I preach. I registered for a half and full marathon. I bought the lie and told myself that when I ran them I could finally consider myself a real runner. Well, I was supposed to run my first half marathon in February. I was equally excited and terrified. But life happened and I didn’t run it. Instead I ended up with a strained muscle. I probably could have run on it, but the stories of injuries from other runners who ran through pain, only to be sidelined for months, forced me to make the hard decision and pull out of the race.


Not running that half marathon and allowing my body the chance to fully heal doesn’t mean I'm not a runner. In fact, I believe it means I'm a smart runner who will live to run another day. Because I AM A RUNNER and SO ARE YOU!

I love how Kat realized being a runner is not about a certain distance or speed. Hitting a specific mileage or pace does not make you a runner; it's often a change in perspective and mindset! It seems like considering oneself a runner (or even an athlete) is hardest for those of us who didn't grow up in the sport. But it's pretty plain and simple - If you run, YOU'RE A RUNNER! No qualifications needed! It may not define you, but it's definitely a part of who you are... so own it and run!

Did you struggle considering yourself to be a runner or athlete?


Bree at Clarity Defined said...

It's funny to me this post is today given my own Instagram stories last night.

I got tagged in one of those IG Story templates last night... and the template was "I am a runner" but I added a "^ not" in there when I posted my responses. I'm training for my first marathon right now, but no, I don't consider myself a runner. Is it because I'm not a good runner? Maybe. Is it because I don't love running? Probably.

I run, but I'm not a runner. I don't enjoy training, but I enjoy the feeling of accomplishing something I didn't really want to do, haha. It reminds me I can do hard things.

I'm not a great yogi, but I love yoga and I teach it, so I claim it. I wasn't the best dancer, and certainly didn't/don't have a dancer's body, but I grew up dancing and still love it, so I claim it. But running, I'm not ready to claim that yet.

Wayne said...

How we see ourselves is important.

MDubz said...

great work Kat... I've seen how much you run... you are DEFINITELY a runner!!!

Matias said...

The bottom line though is if you start out to quickly for your abilities and training level then you will simply run out of energy well before the finish line. This is often why some many marathoner runners 'hit the wall'. Adriana Grillet