There was a time in my life when running around the block would have seemed like I was running a marathon. I remember those cold, breathless nights plodding in the dark aiming for just “one more lamppost” like it was yesterday. I saw a tweet last week saying if you can run x distance in x time then you are a proper runner and it got me thinking.
Is being a runner just about time and distance?
I guess on one basic level it is: we all strive to have a goal in mind, doesn’t matter if it’s 3 lampposts without stopping or a 100k race, doesn’t matter if it’s a sub 35 min 10k or a sub 40 min 5k but we do as runners think in time and distance because those things are the baseline set by running society and more widely society in general. Look at the health initiative “Couch to 5k” it’s a programme to aims for a distance. You can’t escape it.
But running is about so much more than time and distance, it’s about how it makes you feel, about yourself and everything around you. Going for a run can be one of the most uplifting things that you can do, it may hurt but you’ll always feel better for putting one foot in front of another. And that sense of achievement when you grasp your personal goal is like a year of Christmas days ( without the Eastenders special ) all rolled into one.
You’ll learn more about yourself running than you will paying a therapist, you’ll find your pain level, you’ll find your ‘happy place’, you’ll get a sense of how far you can push yourself mentally and physically, and you’ll get valuable thinking time where you can evaluate your life and what you have achieved and what you will go on to achieve as the path unfolds in front of you.
Do you get the sense that I love to run?
Having not run for many months I really value the time that I get to plod these days and of late my running has been going very well. I’m seeing small improvements every week, I’m feeling better about myself as I plod along and the world as a whole seems a nicer place. BUT if I was to believe that tweet I can’t call myself a proper runner because I can’t run x distance in x time. I have a brother, Craig, who I’m very proud of, he’s the British 100km Champion and this week he won a 50 mile race at an average speed of less than 7 minute miling in waist deep water at times. A phenomenal achievement and one that should be celebrated. We should celebrate runners who are talented, quick and work hard but we shouldn’t dismiss those of us that work hard but aren’t able to run 20 odd miles at 6 min pace or win gold medals.
As far as I’m concerned a proper runner is one that opens the door every day, and takes that first difficult step on a journey that will see them return to that door, a little less energetic, a little red-faced, a little sore but above all else a better person.
I’m a proper runner and I’m bloody proud of it.
As I said at the beginning of this post I’ve come along way since my own lamppost days, so far that I’ve actually made the short list of the 2014 Running Awards in the book category. If you have a spare minute, I’d appreciate it if you could vote for me, it would be nice not to come last 😉
Votes can be cast here: http://therunningawards.com/
So tomorrow open your front door, take that step and become a proper runner once more. Happy running folks.