It Doesn’t Matter How Far. It Doesn’t Matter How Fast.

A friend of mine mentioned the other day that she has a hard time convincing people who run, that they are runners.  As a runner myself, I find it really hard to imagine that someone would want to be in denial that they are so bad ass!  But seriously, this is a topic I have touched upon before and one that tends to pop up frequently.

Merriam Webster defines a runner as a) one who runs and b) one that smuggles or distributes illicit or contraband goods.  


I can certainly understand why you wouldn’t want to be defined as the latter.  But according to the good old dictionary, the only thing you need to do to be a runner, is simply run.

While we runners are often pretty damn proud to be a part of this little club, there really isn’t much you need to do to make the cut.  There are no rules about how fast you need to go, nor is there anything that dictates how far you must run.

Truth be told, there is a very large portion of runners who specifically follow run/walk plans.  Many of the full and half marathoners I have worked with use run/walk their entire races.

That definition of a runner never mentions a particular pace you must hold.  So please, stop apologizing for your pace.  No more, “I run but I only do a X-minute mile.”  If you run, you are a runner!  If you run and walk, you are still a runner!


You will not find a definition of running that dictates how far you must go.  Indeed, if you would like to call yourself a marathoner you will need to run 26.2 consecutive miles.  But if you like to throw on your shoes when you get home and run a few blocks around your neighborhood, then you are a runner!

One thing I think you will find as you continue running is that the people who comprise our sport, are pretty spectacular.  We are a nerdy bunch who love to see other dorks join our team.  We know that this isn’t always easy, and we appreciate anyone who is willing to lace up and push through the sweat, snot, and occasional blisters or missing toe nails.

Just like with anything else in life, you will find a snobby runner or two.  There will be the trail runner who turns their nose at those of us who pound the pavement.  You might meet the speedy marathoner who claims anything over 6 hours doesn’t count.  By the way, this article in the NY Times still burns me up; especially the last line.


As a coach, I have worked with hundreds of runners. Some are speedy and some go at a much slower pace.  Some runners have a shorter training route, while others will see 22 mile training runs.  One thing I know for sure, is that the struggle is real.  The passion is real.  And the running is real.

So please, stop apologizing about your pace.  Don’t shrug off your runs.  Nod, smile, and proudly proclaim that you are a runner!

20 thoughts on “It Doesn’t Matter How Far. It Doesn’t Matter How Fast.

  1. So true. It breaks my heart a bit whenever I hear this. Last night a running club friend said that she felt she wasn’t fast enough for the group runs. My club prides itself on having an inclusive nature. Being fast is not a necessary condition for being a runner.

    • 100%. I think that fear keeps a lot of people from joining groups and clubs. What I have found is that most people actually fit perfectly or are even faster than they realize. We are way too hard on ourselves.

  2. At my club run last night we had 6 new members!
    I was pleased to see two people who felt comfortable enough to go for a brisk walk with us and not run. So many people don’t feel like runners or good enough runners to join a club. Joining a club is one of the best things you can do for your running.
    I hope to see our walkers back next week.

  3. I still feel uncomfortable to call myself a runner. If I do, I usually follow ‘I’m a runner’ up with ‘well, I’m a slow runner’ or ‘really I just jog’ ‘I’m not that good’. I guess its a confidence thing!

  4. This made me smile.
    I think I am part of the group that doesn’t consider myself a runner because I’m not “fast”. That said, my sister is fast and so are her friends and they all love that I run. It’s definitely all in my head. 🙂

  5. Yeah… Hmmm… There is a reason most of our rides are invite only. I hate to be exclusive but I want to be held hostage to a 13 mph pace about as much as I wanted to write this comment. Chuckle.

  6. I used to put a lot of that pressure on myself – that I couldn’t walk at all or that would mean I wasn’t a ‘real runner’ … or I wouldn’t be a ‘real runner’ until I ran a marathon … or broke certain paces and so on.

    And really I quickly started realizing that none of that crap was true – it was all inside my head, and I needed to let it all go. I am a runner, not a fast runner, but a distance runner who loves to get out and run and who has a body that always says ‘sure, let’s go!’.

    My only pet peeves regarding running are the same as in pretty much every other area – those who are inconsiderate. Like walking down the hall at work – if I am alone and you are three people walking side-by-side, there is only so much I can do! Same when out running. Also spitting without looking … and stopping to tie your shoes right in the middle of a crowd during a race. You are a runner … but not the ONLY runner 🙂

    • Oh those are some great pet peeves. Spitting without looking is one that drives me nuts. I’ve come close to yelling at people during races because I almost got hit trying to pass them. I get that you need to spit, but be polite and take a look, just as you would any other time. And the three to a shoulder thing, should also go for walkers. I cannot stand when people walk on the sidewalk and take the whole thing up. I’m really trying to teach Mary basic manners. I think we have really gotten away from these. Treat people well. Be kind. Just be a nice person!!

  7. I have that same problem! Well, I didn’t used to. But since i broke my ankle, I can’t think of myself as anything other than an injured runner. I’ve even started doing run/walk intervals but I still can’t think of it as proper running, just because I know how far I still have to go!

    • When you are injured or are coming back from an injury, it can feel like it will never be the same. But you are a runner. The one great thing about running is that once we have it, it is always there. It might take awhile to get it back, but it is always there. Once a runner, always a runner!

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