What makes a runner?
I've been having the same conversation with a lot of different people lately and it's centred around one thing.
What makes people identify themselves as a runner?
I have friends who have run multiple marathons 'But', they say 'I don't do much running apart from when I'm training so I'm not really a runner.' And then there's the people who think their body type is the wrong one for running so even if, by all accounts, they are running, they struggle to see themselves as runners. And of course there's the question of distance. Do you have to be running a long way to be a 'real runner'? And do you have to go fast too?
Or are these excuses we make to steal a sense of achievement from ourselves?
In my view it's a state of being, not a state of doin. You are a runner, whether you're running right now or not. There's a runner inside you because there's a runner inside all of us. It's how we're built to move. It is the most liberating activity possible, to move yourself from one place to another using just the power of your own body. But me telling you that won't make a difference because being a runner is a feeling, a way of thinking and living more than anything else.
Perhaps the most tangible commonality amongst runners - whether they see themselves as that or not - is a deeply felt connection to the sport. I have heard countless stories of lives changing due to running. I know my own did immeasurably, and continues to (but that's another story).
In Zen and the Art of Running, Philosophy Professor Larry Shapiro writes about exactly this -
He argues that to someone who is so deeply connected to running... It is fundamental to their wellbeing. It keeps them alive. It makes them better parents, friends, partners.
Do you have to be going far or fast to feel a deep connection to the sport? Of course not. It’s just that sometimes that deep connection grows with time and experience. Like any relationship really... It can be love at first sight, a twinkle in the eye or a slow burn. What we’re cultivating is a love affair with ourselves through running. And that’s pretty beautiful.
If you've ever felt the need to move, felt the happy crinkling of your brain shifting gear after some time on your feet, ever looked longingly at your trainers sitting by the door... then you're a runner. Whether you've made your first steps or not, I know it's in you and I can't wait to see you out there.
Keep running happy,