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Am I a True Runner?

After reading my running partner’s blog post where she reflected on how our lives must be different if we call ourselves runners (“In between [our regular runs], is where I think the problem lies. I call myself a runner, but I don’t act like it when I’m not running.”), I asked myself, “Am I a Real Runner?” After reading this, Pearl Izumi’s “We are Not Joggers,” I again had to ask myself, “Am I really a Runner, or am I just a jogger?”

Here’s what Pearl Izumi’s webBook says separates Runners from joggers.

  1. Runners are not half-hearted.
  2. Running is not civilized.
  3. Real Running makes other people nervous.
  4. Runners sometimes jog, but joggers never Run because Running feels horrible to joggers.
  5. Runners don’t try to ignore their bodies, surroundings, or reality by jammin’ out to their iPods.
  6. Running is an endeavor.
  7. Running is not for the faint of heart.

Basically what I get from all that “Running is different and better than jogging” is that it’s about attitude and dedication. A Runner is in tune with her body. A Runner is not about enjoying Running; a Runner is about Running, when it feels good. And when it feels not-good. A Runner goes at it whole-heartedly. A Runner doesn’t look pretty after the run. Do I do all that?

I don’t really agree with Pearl Izumi’s high-and-mighty tone, because I think at least joggers are on their feet not on their couch. Pearl Izumi is most definitely trying to market their products, running shoes and technical clothing, but what they are trying to get at is this. If you jog, don’t call yourself a runner. If you look out the window, see rain clouds threatening, and don’t lace up your trainers, you should call yourself a jogger. If a Runner looks out her window, she sees the darkening sky, and hits the pavement before the rain comes down. Call yourself what you are, that’s what they’re getting at.

I think in the last eight months on our “Road to the Marathon,” I have gone from jogger to Runner. I have actually reached the point where I feel different if I don’t run, where I feel better after a 6:45 a.m. run than I did before it, where I schedule my life around running (that’s a shift in priorities if I’ve ever seen one!). But do I give it my all? Am I putting everything I have into every run? I think I skimp a lot, and I know that sometimes I even try to put as little effort into it as possible. (Yikes, that doesn’t feel good to admit.) But there are days when I give it my all, when I have to convince myself to run faster, when I push myself to run faster. Or push myself to keep running at all. And I guess that every day can’t be a hard day, or I’d be burnt out.

So Pearl Izumi is making me live up to the standard of “Running,” and then Sarah is challenging me to schedule more than just when my runs are going to be. Her blog post made me realize that I’m the proverbial “Sunday Christian” when it comes to running. Before and after my runs, I’m a Runner. But when it comes to bedtime, I’m not acting like I’m a Runner. When it comes to eating, I’m not making the choices a Runner would make. When it comes to stretching and weight training (two practices that guard my body against injury) I’m not stretching and lifting the way a Runner would. More of my life needs to be like the life of a Runner.

I think this is a great time to stop and answer the question “Why is Running so important?” For me, it’s because I am starting now to live a life that means a healthier future. If I eat and sleep like a Runner, I’ll reach and maintain a weight that doesn’t put me at risk for joint damage, heart disease, plus a host of other health problems. If I make Running a habit, I’ll be making my body stronger instead of slowly letting it deteriorate over the rest of my life. Like I’ve said before, I’m trying to make a lifestyle change, so perhaps I can call myself a Runner, but I need to acknowledge to myself that I am on the road (no pun intended!) to being a full-fledged Runner. I don’t have all the pieces in place now, but I will.

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