When you think of a runner what do you see in your mind? I think of a thin, well built, fast person with every muscle in their body defined as if someone painted them on their body. Yes that is true. People who have dedicated their lives to running and who are the elite runners of the world do in fact look like that. But there is another class of runners out there. I too am a runner. As I ran on Friday morning in the frigid winter weather watching the puffs of my breath as i ran through the crisp morning air, I started thinking. A while back a friend of mine and I went to buy new running shoes for our first half marathon at a very popular running store. The sales person made a comment that was really dicouraging to hear. When my friend asked about a particular aspect of the shoe she was interesed in purchasing the sales person responded that real runners don't worry about that but instead the real runners care about this. Real runners? What? So running a half marathon is not real running? We must have just been imaging the training schedules we had, the pains were were feeling in our bodies, the sweat and tears that we endured as we ran 12 miles in 95 degree temps. Instead of discouraging us, we took the comment and tossed it aside.
As I ran Friday that whole incident kept replaying in my mind. Am I a Real Runner? The answer to that is yes. I got really pumped and kept pushing through every hill and every ache and pain in my frozen body. I am a real runner. Anyone who wants to challenge that I dare you to go out in the morning in 14 degree weather and fight through the mucsle aches, the shin splints, the frozen faces where your lips can't move, and the frozen snotcicles and then tell me i am not a real runner. Granted I am not the 110 lb defined body type kind of runner, but I am a runner. I started running at 230 lbs. I was able to run 5 miles at 230 lbs at about a 12-13 min/mile pace. I did not let the weight keep me from doing anything. Instead I just kept pushing through. I am carrying around an extra 70 lbs on the elites and Im still running 9:30-10:30 min/miles. now 40 lbs lighter and about 4 mins faster on my mile, Im still over weight but I am still running. I am a runner.
This is the first time I have ever really felt like a real runner. I have the drive, the determination and the heart to keep going no matter what in order to get to my goal of running my first marathon. I am not part of the elite runners and I am not doing this because I want to win anything. I am a runner because I love to run and I am doing it for the love of the sport and for the love of myself. To me that is what makes me a Real Runner.