I have been hit with this simple question and yet continue to come up with complex answers. Does it mean you simply put one foot in front of the other? Does it mean you are dedicated to pushing your limits? Does it mean you are running from something or toward something?
I have been tossing this idea around in my head more and more in the last few months than I ever have before. You see, I am a fairly new runner. Maybe I am not as new as I think, but it all still seems new to me. This could possibly be because I just started taking my running seriously 6 months ago. I started attempting to run on December 28, 2014 as part of a challenge from a wellness group I was in. The challenge was to do a 5k over the weekend in any form, run, walk, bike, or swim, as a way to say “see ya later” to the past year.
My past year had been a rocky one, finishing grad school, moving back home, on a desperate hunt for a job that just wouldn’t come. I woke up early from another sleepless night and decided to just give it a try, what was the worst that could happen? I told myself that I could turn around and go home whenever I wanted. And I debated it every half mile. I ended up completing the 3.1 miles in just under 50 minutes in a walk/run fashion and felt accomplished. It didn’t matter what was going on in my life that was bringing me down, I had just completed a goal that I set out to do, despite wanting to turn around the entire time, and nothing could get me down. Yes, it was tough, but I did it, and no one could take that away from me.
Though the feeling of accomplishment was amazing, I did not run for another week due to some travel. And when I returned to it, it was for a different reason, no longer to just feel the sense of reaching a goal but to try and find value in someone else through running. To say the least, the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 was a rough week. Running just seemed like a way to make the pain go away. If I could prove to the person that hurt me that I was capable of something challenging and have them find value in me through something like running, then I could make the pain go away. We all know that this is not the case, but this is how my running story began and I am forever grateful for this rocky start, because without it I would not be where I am today.
Fast forward almost two years and I have now completed a half marathon, countless other races and many miles. I have found strength within myself to be a runner. But I am still conflicted with what it actually means to be a runner. This is something that I have never viewed myself as, so how is it possible that others view me as it now? Yes, I run a few days a week and participate in races, but does that qualify me as a runner? Is it enough to just put forth effort to try and run that qualifies me? This is a journey of new discovery as a runner, no matter the road it leads down. My story to becoming a runner and my journey in this realization is just a part of the wonderful process better know as “Am I Really a Runner?”.