A few weeks ago I had a chance to run with a client I have worked with for several years. She started from scratch with me and has completed several marathons, half marathons, and other distances. She’s worked hard and the improvements I have watched her make are nothing short of impressive.
She took a hiatus for awhile and is making a fierce comeback. We all know how hard this can be. When we discussed how to approach getting back into running, she said something that I totally understood but also had me shaking my head. She said, “I feel like a fraud.”
I asked how she could possibly feel like a fraud and she said that she didn’t grow up a runner, or even an athlete. There’s been obstacles in life that should have sidelined her. Everything in life, leading up to adulthood said she shouldn’t be a runner.
Let me be the first to say, she is a runner. She ran not one but two full marathons. She started from the very beginning and pushed herself through every difficult moment along the way. Running is hard! She didn’t let that stop her.
Here’s the deal: Sure you look at your television and see tiny and toned elite runners sprinting to the finish of the Boston Marathon. You come across any running path and see people cruising by, breathing effortlessly. They are no more a runner than anyone who chooses to step outside and log any number of miles.
Every “real” runner, anyone who truly works to get through miles, appreciates anyone who attempts to run. There’s no rulebook about how to become a runner, how far you must run, or what you must weigh. There is no start date, or expiration for becoming a runner. You could be 90 and choose to lace up your shoes! Being a runner isn’t about a certain pace, age, or look. Running is about putting one foot in front of the other and pushing yourself to new limits.
Let me emphasize that we celebrate all kinds of runners for their accomplishments. How can she be a fraud if we cry tears as we watch an injured athlete cross the finish line, or the 80 year old who completed their first endurance event? Is her ability to overcome obstacles and push her body any less admirable? These examples are certainly remarkable for many reasons. However, they also show that a real runner isn’t always someone who is born with the gift of natural athletic ability. Real running is tying up your shoes, pushing on, and moving forward when your mind and body tell you to stop.
If you choose to run, you are a runner. Don’t apologize for your pace or the number of miles you run. This is your journey. You own this experience. Be proud of your accomplishments. Know that what you are doing is nothing short of remarkable.
You are a runner and you are real. No doubt about it!