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.
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 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.
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?