When you hear the word “runner” what or who do you think of?
….Tall? Lean? Brunette? Young? Man? 100 mile weeks? Carbs?
I feel like there is often a stereotype associated with runners, or at least “real” runners. I’ll admit, I used to think of real runners as only those who looked the part (thin), ran 50 miles a week, did “running workouts” (speed, tempo, etc.) and had multiple marathons under their belt. If you didn’t hit that criteria, to me, you just liked to run…it was your hobby. While it was years ago that I believed that stereotype (at a time of low self-confidence), it is something that I’m reminded of often.
This past Saturday when I finally got to change-up my route, was one of those times. The streets were filled with runners…Men, women, teenagers, seniors, black, white, tall, short, lean, muscular. There was not one word that would describe the variety of people I saw. In fact, if I saw these people at the mall in normal, non-workout clothes, I would probably have no clue that they were runners. And I love that.
I love that people of any size, shape, color, gender, or age can run. I love that you can go out for a run once a week or every day and still call yourself a runner (<– yes you can). I love that there isn’t an official document you have to sign that orders you to run X miles a week or race X number of times a year. Heck you don’t even have to race to be a runner. I love that you don’t have to look a certain way to run. In fact, I know some people who run double-digits almost every day of the week and do not fit the stereotype.
Right now, some of my friends are just beginning to run and are intimidated by the stereotype. Most want to start running for their health and to challenge themselves. I’ve tried to be encouraging but not overwhelming (you’re never forced to run, it’s something you like to do). I’ve told them to not let the “ideal runner” stop them from testing out the roads. Being a “runner” doesn’t mean you have to place pressure on yourself.
When you run just for you, free from pressures and ideals, you are definitely a runner.