What defines a serious runner?

The other day at work there was a casual conversation going on about how my co-workers are trying to form a relay team for the Green Bay Marathon.  I said that even though I’ll be running the Half, that I’d still be willing to be a part of the relay team.  A bit more discussion went on while a new co-worker that just started was listening in.  After awhile she looked at me and said, “you’re like a serious runner, huh?”  I was kind of taken aback.  First I’m not sure what was said that led her to say that because the conversation wasn’t anything “serious”.  But besides that, I think I was mostly taken aback because I didn’t know how to answer her.  And that’s because I guess I still don’t consider myself a serious runner.  But as I sat there just staring at her and trying to figure out how to answer her, I finally came up with the only answer that I could… I shrugged my shoulders, did a half-nod, half-side-to-side head shake and then I whispered, “I guess”.

Why do I not feel like a serious runner?  Or a real runner?  When will I feel legit?  And what makes a legitimate and real runner?  Let’s take a look at different aspects of running to see if they apply:

  1. Continuous effort:  Check
  2. Multiple years of running:  Check
  3. Goal setting: Check
  4. Entering events and races: Check
  5. Know the how-tos and how-not-tos:  Check
  6. Know the difference between Gu and Powergel:  Check
  7. Know that if I wait until mile 6 to take my Gu, it’s too late and I’m already tired and bitchy.  Must take Gu at mile 5: Check
  8. Run various events/distances from a 5K to a marathon:  Check
  9. Have run not 1, not 2 but 3 marathons:  Check
  10. Have run over a dozen “distance” events:  Check
  11. Have gotten bored with traditional races and have tried fun runs like The Urban Climb, The Urbanathlon, The Warrior Dash, The Fall 50 Relay:  Check
  12. Have run races in multiple states, 4 to be exact: Check
  13. Have pushed beyond standard, flat races and trained and conquered races with hills, some damn big hills:  Check
  14. Have so much reflective, dryfit running apparel the weight broke the closest rod:  Check
  15. The folks at the specialty running store recognize and know me: Check
  16. Skipped happy hours, concerts, and dinners because of a training run:  Check
  17. Rearranged plans and altered personal vacations, holidays, parties and work schedules to complete a training run:  Check
  18. Have taken everything Mother Nature can throw at a person; negative 30 degrees, thundersnow (seriously, that’s a real weather event), 100 degree temps and humidity: Check
  19. Am approaching and will most likely go over the 5,000 lifetime mile mark this year:  Check
  20. Have been in public with no makeup, flat/frizzy hair, sweated more than any girl should do, and be seen with sweat rings where sweat rings should never be and am actually okay with it:  Check
  21. Know Race Directors personally: Check
  22. Am part of the Operations Team for local distance events:  Check
  23. Have seen multiple doctors for running related injuries: Check
  24. Have been told by multiple doctors there isn’t anything that can be done and I should probably stop running:  Check
  25. Chose to ignore doctors orders and run anyway:  Check
  26. Have gotten other people into running: Check
  27. Have answered other people’s running related questions because they somehow think I have running knowledge:  Check
  28. Have a subscription to Runner’s World magazine and read it cover to cover: Check
  29. Have personally met running superstars like Bill Rodgers, Burt Yasso and Sarah Reinertsen:  Check
  30. Run at a pace that, by most, is considered fast or at least above average:  NO

Aha!  There you have it.  I’m slow.  Why does speed, or lack of speed, keep me from feeling like a real runner?  Why is it that I feel that I must have a caveat when I say I ran marathons?  When speaking to someone this is my typical response… “yep, I’ve run three… but I’m slow!”  Why do I do that?  Why not stop at, “Yes, I’ve run three.”  Or better yet, why not say, “Yes, I’ve run three and I’m damn proud of it.  It was among the hardest accomplishments of my life and something I’m extremely proud of.  I trained, I ran,  I did it.  I didn’t walk,  I didn’t stop, I finished!”

According to dictionary.com a runner is defined as someone who runs.  So by definition I am a runner.  But is being a serious runner defined as someone who runs fast?  No!  Trust me, I checked and nothing comes up on dictionary.com when you type in serious runner.  So I guess from now on, I should set the definition for what it means to be a serious runner and I have to remember that it does not mean being a fast runner!  I will make my own definition from here on out.

Until next time,

Gotta run!

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