Am I a runner?
I am by no stretch of the imagination what you would call a typical athlete. My abs don’t ripple and you can clearly see I eat carbs regularly. Who knew that your breast size could be a disability when trying to run at any speed. Lots of practice and sports bra have been trailed. In fact, it gets a little tiresome explaining to people that, “yes, I can run for a good amount of distance without dying,” “yes I am fitter than I look,” and “yes I do enjoying running for fun”. I can say I have always been active from being a small child but I am never going to be an elite.
This got me thinking. Just because I run, does it mean I can classify myself as a runner? If so, when was the turning point? Was it after the first 5km, the first half marathon or my last full marathon? Is there a qualifying time to join the “runner’s world team?”. Do I have to run 3 or 4 or 5 days a week? This also got me wondering if I had missed out on a “Welcome to The Club Pasta Party” or at the very least a T-shirt and invite into a secret society of Instagram worthy, Nike obsessed like-minded individuals.
I remember my first run… well “run”. Repressed memory is perhaps a better way to describe it. When I began, my fitness journey My running buddy and best friend and I had one approach. “Fake it till you make it” She entered me into a 7km “fun run” and I genuinely think at the time we were going to smash it. If you want to call near-cardiac arrest “fun” then you could say I had a great time but in truth I hated it. If I ran for more than 100 meters without wanting to heave or throw up, then I was impressed. My legs could barely carry me and I thought my throat had been sandpapered raw. The worst part was getting over taken by a walking 86-year-old veteran with 2 hip replacements. I vowed I would never be that unfit in my life ever again.
So, my running journey began. It took me 2 years of running in South African to be able to run a 10km without stopping. I was so proud I then ran a half marathon to celebrate the week after. I ran my first marathon in 2014 at the Loch Ness marathon. If I could relive that experience again- I would tomorrow. The thrill, the passion, the dedication to cross that line and the magnificent scenery was indescribable. Oh, and painful, let’s not forget the not being able to walk for a week afterwards and feeling like the arch of your foot had collapsed inwards. (spoiler alert: don’t let this put you off kind people!)
Since then I have run 2 more marathons and more 9 half marathons and countless training runs, breaking PB’s and losing the race to he clock in equal measure. I have gone through 5 pairs of running shoes, plastered my golf ball sized blisters, nursed raw patches from chaffing and live with the fact the back of my heels will possibly never be soft again. I have made friends through running, lost hours of sleep to getting up to train and come to the conclusion that life’s guilty pleasures can come in the form of socks and Vaseline. In fact, I realized the most expensive clothes I own are not Victoria secret but the draw full of running gear.
This year discovered I need to fall back in love with running, it is the partner I have taken for granted for years while looking on the horizon for more to life. It is my therapy. The place I return to when the stress hits, when I want to celebrate a win or just blow off some steam. That familiar sound of trainers hitting the pavement on a quiet Saturday morning is what I live for. The feeling of heart pounding, sweat dripping, adrenaline surging, calf aching blissfully sweet painful pleasure. A punishment and a cure-all wrapped into one.
The conclusion? I am not sure when I started calling myself a runner but I was late in doing so. I was a runner that first time I tied my laces with the intention of changing myself for the better. When I said no to that beer or burger because I had training. When it became a “run” and not a “jog”. When running became as important as everything else in my life whether it took me 20 minutes or 4 hours.
If you want to know what makes a runner -it’s you. The moment you decide you are going for a run and your foot hits the floor, treadmill, or trail. That’s your label and you are allowed to wear it proudly. Every mile you concurred is your badge, your gold star, your “You Go Glen Coco” moment. Don’t let anyone put you in a box that tells you differently.