As you know, we embrace all ability levels with Stroller Warriors. In fact, I think we even get most excited about the members that have never ran a day in their life, but want to start their journey with us. As far as I’m concerned, the day they show up to a workout and do run/walk intervals, they are a RUNNER!
But for some reason, that term “runner” is frequently deemed something that must be earned. What are the qualifications? Do you have to run a certain pace? Do you have to run a certain mileage? Do you have to run for several years? Do you have to run the entire way? Do you have to run a half marathon? Maybe the real runners are only the marathoners?
I don’t recall ever seeing a list of requirements somewhere to call yourself a runner. If you run, even if it’s 1 block, doesn’t that mean you are a runner?
You may be surprised to hear that long distance running never came naturally to me. In high school, I woke up nervous and dreaded the cross country workouts. We typically ran 1 or 2 miles and I thought it might as well be 100. But, I made myself do it, because it was beneficial for basketball and track & field (my "real" sports) and I enjoyed the camaraderie of my team mates. Regardless of our team’s success, it was still a mental struggle for me and I never really felt like I was a distance runner. I saw myself as a jumper, a sprinter, a hurdler, a basketball player. Distance runner? NOPE. I didn’t feel great doing it, nor was I the winner at our meets, so that surely meant I didn’t rate that title.
The funny thing is, the title of this blog, "I run... therefore I am," was on the back of one of our team track shirts. I should have paid closer attention to the message that our outstanding coaches Nancy Collins, Deb McCarthy, and Frank Nelson were trying to convey to us. They valued every runner on the team, no matter their ability, no matter their event. When I reflect back today, so much of how Stroller Warriors operates is because of how they led our team.
Everyone has different talents. Perhaps running is not your first and most natural talent. Perhaps it's still a new sport to you and you are still learning. Or maybe you feel awful during most of your runs and assume only the "real" runners feel good. (Trust me, it hurts for everyone at some point!) No matter what you believe running is or what it should feel like, if you are out there trying, whether that's running 1 mile a couple times a week, training for a 5K, aiming for a 10K, or maybe even an ultra, you have more than earned your title as a RUNNER.
There is no such thing as a real runner. I run… therefore I am. And that goes for you too, RUNNER.