“Am I a runner?”
A year ago when I started running, I had one dilemma – whether or not I could (should) refer to myself as a “runner”. And I’m not alone here. I’ve met people who have joined a training group, run twice a week for 8 weeks (with witnesses), and still hesitate to call themselves a runner.
The hesitation is only natural. There’s a certain self-consciousness inherent to new runners. We tend to compare ourselves to perfection, thinking that if we’re not wearing the shortest of shorts or the trendiest shoe, we’re not really a runner.
Likewise, unless you do all of your running on a treadmill, hidden away in in your basement, running is a very public act. On my first runs, I found myself out there on the sidewalk. Sweaty, red-faced, and wheezing, I’m sure onlookers had already dialed 9-1…waiting to hit that last 1 just in case I keeled-over. I was a sorry sight.
Then, something amazing happens. After you embarrass yourself three or four more times, you start to adapt. The wheezing subsides, your pace picks up, and you find yourself (gasp!) actually enjoying the run. “Am I a runner now?”
Or maybe it’s running your first 5K. Maybe it’s passing someone who looks like they should be faster than you. Maybe it’s buying that first pair of really fast-looking short shorts. Or suddenly developing really strong opinions about socks.
Basically, it’s about whatever it takes to make you feel like a runner. If you feel like a runner, you are a runner. Over time, you find your feet (pun intended) and the words just roll off your tongue without hesitation: “I’m a runner.”