Inspired by a post on the Diabetes Outside Blog.
The hardest thing about being a "runner" is convincing yourself that you can be one. Or perhaps are one.
I still laugh, or snort, when I am referred to as a runner. Years ago had this vision of what a runner is and felt not only was I far from that, but that I wasn't genetically engineered to ever have a chance at being that. Runners have 0% body fat. Runners run miles upon miles in 4 minutes. Runners look forward to the time they can run. Runner's wear tiny shorty shorts. Runners talk about the "Runner's High" they get while running. Runners eat whole grain breads, wheat pastas and grill their foods in only a light olive oil.
Last year, egged on by a friend, I ran a 1/2 marathon in Santa Cruz. He and I trained for it, planned for it and prepared for it as best we could. It was awful. Truly horrible. I thought for sure I was going to die or at least have my ride get tired of waiting for me to cross the finish line and just leave, muttering bitterly "she can find her own way back". Everything hurt and spasmed. Seriously, everything - even my ear buds caused an ache in my ears.
Then a strange thing happened. Another friend invited me to run a 1/2 marathon in Colorado. Yet another friend announced she would be running in her first marathon at the beginning of 2010. Same friend invited me to run a 1/2 marathon, but on a wooded trail near Santa Cruz. The strange thing is a hear myself saying "Sure, I'll do it." I found myself running long runs on weekends. I found myself running from San Carlos, to South Palo Alto and catching the train home. I found myself literally running errands as a stopped at the bank, the post office and the library on my runs.
What had happened? Had I become a runner without realizing it? Checking the list above... zero body fat, no, speedy, no, eager anticipation, no, shorts, god no, high, maybe but not in that way, good eating habits, certainly no... so I couldn't possibly be a runner. Yet asking around, it appears many people think I am a runner.
So the time has come for a new definition of "runner" to work it's way into my vocabulary. A runner is someone who runs. A runner is fast or slow; runs for health, for fun, for social interaction. A runner eats all kinds of food and may or may not be aware of the calories, health benefits, or energy quotient nor care about them. A runner does not always look forward to running. A runner knows that sometimes running is awful, and you feel awful, but it is a better choice than sitting on the couch and maybe the next time it will feel better.
The next time someone asks me if I am a runner, I'll do be level best not to swallow my nose while stifling a giggle and reply "I'm trying to be one."