With just one month until the Virgin Money London Marathon, Fleur Runs shares discusses what it means to be a runner today.
The term ‘real runner’ has caused much debate in the running community lately and I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.
Let me start by saying I believe the term is nonsense. I am even going to go as far to say that even if we drop the ‘real’, being reluctant to call yourself a runner is doing yourself a disservice.
I wanted to explore why people can be reluctant to label themselves as a runner, real or otherwise, and I think I’ve narrowed it down to four possible categories.
1. You haven’t been running that long.
I have scoured the internet and spoken to a number of professionals and no where can I find a definition of how long you have to have been running to call yourself a runner. I ran my first half marathon within around two months of starting to run. Does that mean I wasn’t a runner yet despite having just completed 13.1 miles? The big shiny medal I had placed around my neck would have begged to differ.
2. You don’t enter races or belong to a running club
These are not conditions of being classified as a runner. Entering races or joining a run club are personal choices. Some people prefer to run alone, others haven’t reached the stage in their running journey where they feel comfortable in a race/run club situation. On a side note, if you fall in to the second category, I would urge you to be brave, give it a go, you might make some great running friends. If you are looking for a place to start, LDN Brunch Club are a really friendly bunch!
3. You’re not ‘fast’
Fast is relative. If I run a mile in 10 minutes, I am slower than someone who runs a mile in 8 minutes but equally I am faster than someone who runs it in 12 minutes. A mile is a mile no matter the time it takes to run it. You cannot connect your pace/the time it takes you to run a certain distance to whether or not you are a runner. To provide you with a ludicrous example, what happens if I start running fast enough to call myself a runner and then because I get injured, coming back from injury I am slower, am I now no longer runner? I am not even going go near discussing the term jogger! You might be going slowly but if like me at an eleven-minute mile pace you are still giving it your all, there is no way I am calling myself a jogger; Two marathon medals and the two more I intend to acquire in the next few weeks can attest to that.
4. You don’t look like a runner.
This is my favourite point of discussion out of the four. I have lost track of the amount of times I have been told I don’t look like a runner. However what usually follows is something positive. People say that its refreshing to see someone who isn’t super toned, with abs and wearing tiny running shorts, regularly running and referring to themselves as a runner. I have had messages from people who have said that seeing me, with all my curves, taking on a marathon has made them think that maybe they can to.
I don’t agree that a runner’s body has to have a certain ‘look’. But I’ll tell you what a runner looks like – someone who has trainers on and is propelling their body in a forward motion, usually with a grimace on their face. If you’re doing that, then you are a runner.
Don’t shy away from calling yourself a runner and don’t be embarrassed what other people who might have been running for longer or who run faster might think – If you run you are a runner.