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The Myth of the Real Runner

And Why It’s a Lie

“I often hear someone say ‘I’m not a real runner.’ We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.”

– Bart Yasso

I love to run. If I could get paid to do it, I would sign up immediately. But I’ve found there aren’t too many people looking to sponsor a 46-year-old non-elite runner. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but they aren’t beating down my door either.

I started running seriously about two-and-a-half years ago so I am new to the sport. But running has transformed me. It’s hard to explain to someone doesn’t run, but it is life-changing.

Running is therapy for me. On my long runs where I’m out there for several hours, it is a physical and mental release. It is one way I use to help my mental health. Running has also saved me from being an alcoholic.

When I’m running, everything goes away. I can enjoy the scenery of the mountains and desert and be by myself without any distractions. It is the most incredible feeling.

I also love to compete in local races. I’ve done several half-marathons and many other 5k’s and 10k’s with a few others in between. I am running an ultramarathon in November 2018, and a marathon in January 2019. 

Since I haven’t completed anything above a half-marathon, I feel like I’m not really a serious runner sometimes. 

So when I see people with their marathon medals, I get a little jealous. Since I haven’t run a full yet, I believe I don’t measure up. It’s not a feeling I get from the running community, but rather myself.

And I believe a lot of beginning runners feel this same pressure.

If you feel the same pressure, I want you to know there is no such thing as a real runner. It is a myth; a lie. And a big one.

Real runner
Photo by Andrew Tanglao on Unsplash

There is a saying most everyone knows if you’ve been running for a while.

“If you run, you are a runner.”

It doesn’t matter if you run a 5-minute mile or a 15-minute mile. If you run 1 mile or if you routinely run 20 miles, you are a runner.

Running does not require you to be a certain body size, age, a professional or an expert on form. It doesn’t care about your race, gender, political affiliation, or your sexual preference. There are ways you can get involved with a disability.

Running is all about equality.

Whether you’ve done ultra-marathons, half-marathons, 5k’s or 1-mile fun runs, you are a runner.

Nothing states you have to complete a certain number of races before you become a runner. In fact, you don’t have to complete any races.

There is also nothing that says you have to run every step of the way in a race or even in training. If you want to walk for a few minutes, you can. You are still a runner.

Real runner
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

You don’t have to follow certain rules either. You probably shouldn’t run in the middle of the road, but there is nothing which states you have to be fast or use a certain form.

It doesn’t matter if you finish first or last. It doesn’t matter if you run in $20 shoes or $250 shoes (looking at you Nike Vaporfly).

To become a runner, all you have to do is run.

I’ve learned there is nothing which catapults you from a beginning runner to a real runner. There is no threshold or number of races you must complete.

Because, “If you run, you are a runner.”

I’m proud of being a runner, and I’m proud to be part of the running community. It is so wonderful and encouraging.

I’m proud because I’m a real runner. Just like you.

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