Posted by: rundadrun | March 12, 2010

Am I a runner?

I hear it from people all the time. “How do I know if I am a runner or not?” My sarcastic side always wants to ask them, “Do you run?”  But I know what they are asking. They want to be affirmed in their running.  They want to be included in a group that they don’t quite feel good enough to be a part of.  I think we all know that feeling. Whether it was the “cool” group back in high school, or feeling like you fit in with your peer group or friends, we all have some issues when it comes to feeling like we are accepted.

The secret about being a “runner” is that there is really no definition of what being a runner is.  I have read quite a few threads on running forums where one runner was waxing eloquent about what makes a person a runner.  The common thread in most of them is that they always include themselves in whatever the main criteria is that makes a person a runner.  It is usually related to one performance indicator or another.

“You can’t be a runner if you can’t run a 5K in less than ___.”

“I am a runner because I have finished 12 marathons”

“You aren’t a runner if you take walk breaks during your run”

“You can’t be a runner unless you can run at least X miles at a time”

The list is endless.  It always amazes me that if you use the person’s own criteria, you can eliminate them as being a runner.  I happen to know a lot of runners who put in hundreds of miles a year, but have no interest in racing.  Does that make them less of a runner?  If race times are their ticket into the running club, who decides what that time is.  I know lots of runners who have qualified to run the Boston Marathon.  But to compare their time to Ryan Hall’s time would make them look pretty slow.  But I guarantee, they are runners. If it just comes down to the fastest times, most of the people doing the judging would end up out of the group.

Why should I worry about what it takes to “be a runner”.  I love running, therefore I am a runner!  I am not the fastest runner, and I am not the runner who ran the most miles last year.  But I am out there, and I am a runner. I refuse to set a standard that others have to reach for me to consider them a runner.  It just seems a little silly to me.

Imagine if  we applied some of these people’s logic to other areas of our lives.

“You can’t be a parent unless you have ___ kids”

“You can’t be a baseball player unless you play in the Major League.”

“You aren’t an accountant unless you work for _______”

We would consider such statements conceited and very narrow-minded at best.  So why listen to someone who wants to put parameters on who is or isn’t a runner.

This isn’t to say that we should get rid of the competitive part of running.  I love to race.  Okay, I love to run in races…I am not much of a racer any more.  I am not saying races are bad, only that they are not the lone indicator of my being a runner.

So, go out there and enjoy being a runner.  You don’t have to be in the front of the pack, or even in the pack. If you enjoy running, you are a runner. Welcome to the club! And next time someone asks if you are a runner, smile and tell them,  “Yes I am”.  And if anyone tells you that you aren’t a runner, don’t let them bother you.  Just RUN away. 🙂 Gotta run.

Happy running.




  1. Well said! I missed out on an opportunity to go running with some friends I was visiting b/c I didn’t consider myself to be “in their league” as a runner. Looking back it was ridiculous. But at the time I was very self-conscious.

    Personally, I don’t really love to run. But I love that I can get such a great workout in a shorter time. And I love how it makes me feel afterward. And I guess I do enjoy it once I get into the “groove.” I guess that makes me a runner after all. 🙂

  2. Usually the people who post stuff like that on message boards are hiding behind a wall. Pretty spineless. Websites like have been refreshing to know that most runners really aren’t like that.

    • I will give that one a look. I use for my running log, but it is mostly young guns there, so I stay off the forums. Thanks for the tip.

  3. dailymile++

  4. Love your post.
    I have just started running a few weeks ago, I’m slow and I take walk breaks and I’ve never completed a race in my life (although I am planning my first 5k in May). But I totally consider myself a runner….a beginning runner, but a runner nonetheless. It feels great to be out there and that’s all that matters to me right now 🙂

    • Glad you liked it. 🙂 Good luck at your first 5K in May. You are totally a runner. 🙂

  5. I’m I a runner? Why, yes I am! Thanks for this post. Love it!

    • Yes you are! Thanks.

  6. Thanks for leaving that encouraging comment at my post. I have to laugh after reading this post of yours, given that I basically called myself a “wogger”!

    • I loved the “wogger” term. Call yourself whatever you like, you are out there moving, and that is what it is all about. 🙂
      Happy wogging, 🙂

  7. I love it! I just ran my first 5K on Saturday, and even though I came in TWENTY MINUTES after the fastest person that day, I knew the minute I crossed the finish line that I am now a runner. Not because I finished the race, but because I’m determined to keep running. Thanks for the great post!

    • Congrats on your first 5K! And thanks for the kind words. I came in 10 minutes after my rocket of a son in my last 5K, but I got to run with my daughter, so it was well worth getting spanked by the son. 🙂

  8. I’m back to running after 23 years and the loss of 118 lbs. (Thanks for the encouraging comments on my post, by the way!) I’m not a great runner by any stretch, but I’m enjoying the three or so miles I’m getting in each day…I guess that’s the important thing.

  9. I love this post! It’s an old debate, isn’t it? I’ve heard that you aren’t a runner unless you race, too, but I’m not sure that I agree with that.

    I think you are a runner if you enjoy running. For me, I know I’m a runner because it keeps me sane. If I’ve taken a few days off, stay away! 🙂

    • I agree with you about not needing to race to be a runner. I also can be a little grouchy if I don’t get out. Thanks for stopping by.
      Happy running,

  10. Good bloggie. Very real thoughts. Thanks for your post on my bloggie.

    • Thanks! I enjoyed your as well.

  11. Isent funny how we tend to let other define us, as many different kinds of people there are, there is many different kinds of runners, if you lace up and head out, you ARE a RUNNER!! i do many things, just finished my first ultra marathon, run alone run with groups, run with my kids, but when i run alone on wood laden trails and take in the slender of the Lord, thats when I define myself as a runner, its my time to share with my savior. But you have to define what makes you a runner yourself, its a very personal thing to each and everyone,
    Thanks Rundad for starting the topic, enjoy the blog, be back soon
    Steve-O (the Runner)

    • Thanks Steve-O. Very well put.

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