What is a runner?

This topic has been long up for debate.  What is a runner?  Is it someone that finishes marathons?  Is it someone who has never completed a race?  Is it someone who can maintain a certain pace?  Can a runner take walk breaks?  What are the qualifications of a runner?

Questions like these can cause a lot of debate and bring up some answers that are constantly changing and most people can’t exactly put a label on what a runner really is.

I shudder when someone dares to describe my activity as “jogging”.  A lot of people would be insulted by the term.  So what is the difference between a jogger and a runner?  If you ask me, there isn’t any.  Anytime your feet are moving forward and you are exerting more energy than you would if you were walking then you are running.  Period.  Go to a local race and you will see people from all walks of life at the race start.  People with singlets and racing flats on, people with a t-shirt and shoes they bought from WalMart, skinny people, large people, short people, tall people, young people, old people, walkers, Mommas, grandparents, disabled folks, people who have trained for months, people who don’t even know the mileage of a 10k, people who sacrificed something just to afford to enter the race, and people who are sponsored.  Yet they are all at a race.  They all have one goal in mind.  To run.

bad form running category

bad form running category

It is embarrassing to see some people of the running community be elitist and look down on those who can’t run sub 9 minute miles.  I’ve seen it myself.  It is extremely intimidating to attend group runs and there isn’t even a pace offered to those who run above a 10 minute mile.  That type of shunning is worse than the Amish and can leave a lot of slower runners or newbie runners feeling bad about themselves and most of all make them not feel welcome in the running world.  There is absolutely no reason to discredit someone for running a slower pace than you.  I’ve seen it done, and it is a disgrace to the running community as a whole.

it is okay to celebrate running slower than everybody else

it is okay to celebrate running slower than everybody else

It is no secret that I’m not a natural born runner.  These days I’m almost embarrassed to whisper that I’m a runner since I can’t even run a whole mile without stopping.  But I’m a runner.  Why?  Because I run.  A runner can be anybody.  There are no resumes, interviews, or applications for runners.  You just run.

Most races always have a front, middle, and back of the pack.

The front are the elites.  Those that can complete the race, do their cool down, and change clothes before the mid pack even thinks about getting to the finish line.  The ones that usually take home the awards.  The ones that get credited for being a “real runner”.

The middle of the packers are still fast (by my standards) and can usually pull out some age group wins.  These people work hard putting in mileage during the week even if running doesn’t come naturally to them.  Middle packers are often more easy to relate to since they probably haven’t spent their whole lives running.

Then there is the back of the pack. That is where you can find me.  Those who work very hard at something that doesn’t come easy.  Those who are out there on the race course the longest, working just as hard as those who finished first.  These are the inspiring ones.  The people who took every ounce of confidence they had just to register for the race.  These are the people I like.

not in the back of the back on that day.

not in the back of the back on that day.

Don’t get me wrong…no matter if you are a front, middle or back pack person, you are still a boss and still out there getting it.  You are still a runner.  Anyone that runs, no matter how far or fast, is a runner.

Runners come from all walks of life and everyone runs for different reasons.  Some run as therapy, some to lose weight, others just because they are good at it.  No matter the reason, they still run.

I am just as impressed with someone able to complete a marathon in 8 hours as I am with someone who wins it in 2:30.  They both had courage to cross that start line and they both stayed out there until the job was done.  No matter the pace, age, looks, or mileage…a runner is a runner.  Point blank.

So…you tell me.  What is a runner?

ever just feel like running?

ever just feel like running?  Old photo from when I lost weight.

24 thoughts on “What is a runner?

  1. Great post! And when you think about it, someone who completed a marathon in 8 hours….just ran for 8 HOURS! That’s impressive no matter what your pace!

  2. You are awesome! I love, love, love this post. I too am a back-of-the-pack runner and have finished a race dead last several times…I almost always feel “less than” than the elite runners. But I love what you said about a runner being anyone who is getting out there and doing it. I totally agree. It takes so much courage for a previously non-athletic person to sign up for a race and hang in there to finish, even if it is dead last!

    • Nothing at all wrong with finishing in the back…you worked just as hard (if not harder) than anyone else out there. Don’t ever feel less than…you are MORE than!! Lots of courage to get out and run or race.

  3. Awesome post! While I’m now approaching “middle of the pack” runners, I haven’t forgotten where I started (at the back!). Don’t let anyone talk down to your for your accomplishments! =)

  4. I love this post! This so awesome and I completely agree that I hate when people refer to running as jogging! Argghh lol
    I am not a super fast runner either and am proud to finish what I do. I love running races because of the diversity of people. Everyone coming together for a common goal. Love it!

    • Thanks, Missy! Jogging is so 1992! Finishing is a proud moment and no one can take that away from you/us/anyone. It really is awesome to see soooo many different types of people come out for one common goal.

  5. Loved this post Kelsey! I simply think of a runner as someone who enjoys running! Simple as that 🙂 You look fabulous in all of your race pics by the way, how do you manage to look so pretty while running?

  6. We are runners! Love this. I shared it on Twitter and would love to feature a link to your post on my blog during my next post!

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