If you move, you’re an athlete. If you run, you’re a runner. Whether you’re working toward running a mile without stopping or you went from the middle school track team to a marathon finish line, runners come in all shapes, sizes, speeds, abilities, and levels of enthusiasm. So, if running is such a wide-ranging activity, why do so many runners, both new and seasoned, struggle to call themselves runners? And what does it take to fully embrace the title?
hitting the 5k goal
“Yes, I’m a runner now, but I remember knowing – yes, knowing – that I couldn’t run 5K without stopping. And I remember what an accomplishment it was to do it.
There was a city park that had a tank on display, and it was 2.5 kilometers away from my house. My goal became the Tank 5K. The day I did it was monumental.
From there, it was a 10K, and then a marathon.
As soon as I did my first marathon, I Googled, ‘What is the hardest marathon on Earth?’ Turns out, it’s the Mount Lemmon Marathon in Tucson, AZ – it’s all uphill, with a 6,000-foot elevation gain. I signed up, and from then it’s gotten a little out of hand!”
– Steve Williams, Raleigh-Durham, NC
If you’re out there running, you’re a runner
“I’m always confused when someone says, ‘But you’re a real runner.’ There really isn’t a fake runner! If you’re out there running, you’re a runner.
This sport is so great because it’s an equalizer – the elites are marveled at by how fast they are, and the elites are amazed by the endurance of those out running even longer than they are.
If you asked a two-hour marathoner to run for six hours, I know what his answer would be! So from front to back, we all motivate each other as runners.”
– Calum Neff, Katy, TX
Running for a few miles straight on a treadmill
“I still struggle to think of myself as a runner since I don’t run races. But after going from weighing 340 pounds two years ago to 199 pounds this past year, I began running on the treadmill and outside. I had never run in my life due to obesity.
So now, when I’m around my close friends and family, yes, I call myself a runner! I have a little more to accomplish before I feel I can call myself a true runner, but that first time putting the treadmill up to 6.5 MPH and running for a few miles straight – I never smiled bigger in my life.”
– Tom Parks, Monroe, MI
Racing 10 half marathons in four months
“There were a lot of naysayers in my life around the beginning of my running journey. I knew I wanted to be a runner, but I hadn’t put in the time to actually call myself one in my mind.
That year, I was too hung up on comparing myself to others and not being happy with all that I had accomplished. I had done many short-distance races, but I wanted something bigger and bolder.
So that fall, I committed to and raced 10 half marathons in a four-month period. At that point, I felt like I had put in the effort and time to be able to call myself a real runner.”
– Tambra Means, Tallahassee, FL
Someone told me: “You’re a runner!”
“I started running on a treadmill as a way to get back into shape after a motorcycle crash that took me out for four months. I’d run before lifting weights at the gym, and a few months later I signed up for a Turkey Trot 5K.
I came in fourth, and decided to run my first-ever 10K two weeks later. I finished third overall and was leading for most of the race.
Afterward, I was approached by another participant who said, ‘You’re a runner!’ From that point on, I believed it.”
– Chris McCaffrey, Jacksonville, FL
Romance and ultimatums
“I ran winter and spring track during my senior year of high school. My coach came to me and said, ‘If you want to be part of this team, you better get serious.’ I still remember his exact words – and still talk with him to this day.
I was dating a member of the female track team, so I wasn’t about to get thrown off the team!”
– Keith Elisberg, Garfield, NJ
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.