I Am a Runner
For the longest time I would not call myself a runner – no matter how many races I completed. I created a definition in my head of what a runner is supposed to be and that definition didn’t include me.
When I started running it was more a run walk. I worked my way up to running three miles and signed up for my first 5k (the last time I would have run a 5K would have been in high school – many, many, many moons ago). After my first 5K I wanted to challenge myself to go farther and signed up for a half-marathon.
I ran my first half-marathon, up in Green Bay, and my average pace was an 11 minute mile. I was proud of my finish but I got into my head that because the marathon runner passed me before the finish (looking amazing if I say so myself) that someone who want twice as far as me in a shorter time than it took me to do 13.1 that meant I wasn’t a runner. From then on I always pictured a runner as skinny, super-fast, very athletic and never stopped to walk.
I can’t exactly tell you when the epiphany hit me that being a runner isn’t determined by your pace, how far you run, what you look like or even if you walk. It was something that happened over time and with a lot of help from Momentum and Nicole. I can remember after many runs with Nicole that I would say but I’m not a runner and she would look at me and say “Yes you are. Your pace doesn’t matter.” Then I’d throw out – but we took breaks. And she would say “why does that matter? Every runner takes a break. Taking a break doesn’t mean you aren’t a runner.”
I wish I could say she only had to tell me once but that is not the case. I had to take my own journey to learn that I was a runner. I had to learn to stop comparing myself to other people who I defined as runners. Then before my first marathon, Nicole gave me the book Born to Run and she said “You are a runner.” I once again responded with dismay…”I’m a runner? But I’m not fast.” And she responded as usual, “It’s not about being fast.”
And then over that weekend it hit me. I hadn’t even read the book yet (though I can tell you it’s a great book and highly recommend that you read it) but I knew I was a runner. At my next workout with Nicole, I said to Nicole, want to hear what my big aha was on over weekend? As always, Nicole was eager to hear what I had learned. The conversation went something like this…
Me: I learned that I’m a runner.
Nicole: You’ve always been a runner.
Me: I know but you know that I didn’t believe it but it’s finally sunk in what you’ve been trying to tell me. I may not be super-fast or skinny but you know what I am healthy, I am fit, I am strong and I am faster than I ever thought I could be and dare I say I’m even an athlete. I realized that it doesn’t matter how long it takes you and even if you have to take breaks or stop that doesn’t take away from the fact of what you accomplished. I am runner. I am my own runner. What and how I run isn’t going to be the same as how someone else runs but just because I’m different doesn’t mean that I’m not a runner.
Nicole: Fist raised and pumped up to the sky, followed by some jumps and whoops for joy. Then a pause for a big hug. No I told you so’s… no it’s about time. Just a heartfelt acknowledgement of what she had been trying to teach me had finally sunk in.
Training isn’t just about the physical transformation it’s also about the mental transformation. I am a runner. I love running. It may have taken me a while to realize it but all along I was a runner. Running has made me a better person. The lessons I’ve learned running apply to my life in general. Some days you have a great run, some days a good run and others a bad run. You hit obstacles and challenges. Have doubts and negative thoughts. Have plans that do not go as you expect. Working through those runs can be scary and uncomfortable but when you are done you realize you wouldn’t change a thing.
And that’s how I know I’m a runner. Because I wouldn’t change a thing even how long it took me to call myself a runner. I’m a runner and that’s who I’m supposed to be. #Iamarunner