If you run, you are a runner
I can’t remember where I first saw this quote, but I’ve seen it several times on social media over the last few months. I’m sure many people have said it, but I think American marathon runner John Bingham, may have been one of the first. Please don’t quote me on that!
It’s such a simple statement, but for me, a significant one. Because it’s taken me 25 years, a pandemic, and a debilitating injury to feel comfortable with calling myself a runner. I’ve uttered the words many times over the years, and used them in social media posts, but I’ve always felt like a fraud as the words tumbled out of my mouth. My running journey started when I was 16-years old. I’m now 42. But I only recently changed the profile description on my Instagram account, because it’s only recently I’ve allowed myself to believe: Hell yeah, I’m a runner.
Without going into too many details and divulging the entire contents of my medical records, I have several injuries and medical conditions to navigate. But over the years, I’ve learnt how to deal the hand I’ve been given. A month before lockdown came into force, I’d just rediscovered my running mojo. I’d found my stride and was happily hitting the pavement regularly – and then injury hit. I strained my hip flexor and my running came to an abrupt halt. I already have a hip labral tear that causes me some issues, so adding a strained hip flexor into the mix really threw me. With no physios available, I used the skills I’d learnt over the past 20-years to self-diagnose the injury, then had a call with my physio just to confirm. We talked through the physio exercises I’d been doing, and he added some more to the list, to help aid my recovery.
7-weeks later, after weeks of painful home rehab and gradually building up my daily walks, I was finally up and running again. 20-minutes of walk-run-walk intervals soon became 5km, then 4-mile runs and then finally a return to running 10k – my favourite distance. At one point during my recovery, I was in so much pain, I thought I might have actually torn something and started to question whether I would be able to walk properly again, let alone run.
But lockdown and injury made me slow down. They made me take the break I knew I needed but hadn’t been allowing myself to have. They forced me to step back and take stock of things – something I struggle with massively. They taught me how much I rely on running for my mental well-being. How I rely on it to clear my head, to get myself outdoors and more recently, spend regular time with Ian.
I’ve been running for over 25-years, but for some reason, it was only during lockdown, I allowed myself to believe I was a runner. Up until then I didn’t consider myself good enough to wear the label. I told myself that real runners enter races, run long distances, are part of a running club, and a whole host of other half-baked statements as to why I wasn’t a real runner.
I am a Runner
My job as a fitness instructor is to include, encourage and cheerlead people into fitness. Yet here I was, excluding myself from something that I didn’t feel good enough for. But as I developed a regular running practice, learnt how to run for enjoyment, increased my sessions and headed out into torrential rain and strong winds without a second thought – I realised something.
I was a runner.
I’ve seen the statement if you run, you are a runner, more and more throughout lockdown, and it’s true. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. They run for a myriad of different reasons, different distances, and speeds; they run along roads and over fells, in groups, in pairs and alone.
When it comes to running, one size doesn’t fit all, and it’s taken me 25-years, a pandemic, and an injury to finally realise.
I am a runner.