I have now been running for four years. Four difficult-at-times yet always-rewarding years. But I'm still plagued by a simple question posed by my friend Lori about three and a half years ago: Do you consider yourself a runner? Back then the answer was simple: No. I run, but am not a runner. But now I'm not so sure. What is it that differentiates those who run from the runners?
Maybe it's the clothes. I usually run in some really old soccer shorts that are two sizes too large. On the top is always a tank top of some sort, but always made of cotton (I usually run indoors and the cotton isn't traumatic to my body). However, we all know that for my birthday last August, C bought me my first running skirt. And this past week, I purchased a "real" long-sleeved running shirt for cold days and a short-sleeved wicking tee for the chilly days. I definitely felt a little different wearing these types of clothes during my long run on Saturday. Don't worry. I haven't changed that much: I'm still not yet converted to the way of the "little socks."
Maybe it's belonging to a running club. C and I joined our local chapter of the Road Runners Club. We even joined a speed development program sponsored by the club. Standing on the track two weeks ago during our first training session, I looked around at all the runners and thought they all looked so "runner-ish." But maybe they all felt the same way I do?? Maybe they don't really feel like runners either. Maybe they looked around and didn't think I was anything but a runner.
Maybe it's the fact that I have been running consistently for four years (admittedly not that long, but at least it's been consistent). I usually run about 18-25 miles a week and have run a multitude of races. I even made a quilt with some of my race t-shirts!
Then again, maybe everybody who runs should call themselves runners, simply by definition.