I’ve been running for a couple of years now. Let’s call it two and half. I’ve run a couple of half-marathons, a 5K and a full marathon in Cleveland last May. But I’m still not sure I can call myself a runner.
I know there are those that believe that if you run at all, you are a runner, but I’m not so sure. I gotta believe that somewhere in a magazine or blog, there are a list of qualifications to ‘become’ or at least to be labeled ‘A Runner.’
Is it about races? Is it about miles? Is it about schedules? Is it about what you’ll give up to get a run in? Is it about the clothes? Well it’s definitely about the clothes. I mean, c’mon – you gotta look the part.
My original thought on this that you’re not a real runner until you give advice on running. Someone needs to view you as a runner and then ask you for pointers or for suggestions. Or, if you could ever be so bold, so forward, as to assume you had something to offer…(gulp)…give advice without being asked. Which leads me to meeting, what I believe, is my final qualification as ‘A Runner.’
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jen responds to a group e-mail that we were both privy to and I notice in her signature block that there is a countdown to the Cleveland Marathon! Whaaaat!? (said in the manner of Borat). What is this? Is it possible that unbeknown to me that Jen is a fellow wanna be runner, or dare I say, already a runner!?
I’m totally pumped. I went diving into the keyboard, ripping off an e-mail to Jen, wanting to hear about how she’s training and how many miles she’s logging. Wondering if her train-up will be anything like my first train-up for the race. What’s her plan? Us wanna be’s gotta talk about it.
She get’s back to me and says, “Yeah, I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to run a marathon or half marathon, or whatever. It’s on my ‘Bucket List.’ ” Okay, so I’m not totally recalling the ‘whatever’ part, but she just threw it out there! She’s not thinking about it or talking about it, she’s just gonna do it!?
Is that possible? Are you kidding me!? You can’t just wake up one day and decide to be a runner! You have to consult the experts! You gotta buy a good pair of shoes and at least one cool pair of shorts.
Well, okay, so maybe she just decided, but she’s probably got a plan. So the next time I see her, I ask her how her training is going. Come to find out, she doesn’t even have a plan! Figures she’ll just start running and dive on in! No talk of shorts or shoes. No mileage increase plan. No ‘fast runs,’ no ‘long runs,’ no ‘speed work.’ Just run.
So almost without thinking, I SUGGESTED she set a schedule and try to make some longer runs and increase her mileage.
Holy crap! I just threw it out there! I was GIVING ADVICE, and it was the kind that wasn’t asked for! Unbelievable! Here I am, advising someone on running, and I’m not even sure if I AM a runner. The whole thing stopped me cold and left me a bit stunned as I replayed the conversation and advice I’d given in my head.
What if I was wrong about my advice? What if my advice hinders rather than helps?
Well, quite honestly, at this point, what Jen does or doesn’t do with my advice is completely irrelevant. Though if she wants any ‘street cred’ at all, she’ll at least need a cool pair of shorts. But the point is that this narrative is totally and unabashedly about ME.
OK, so I got a marathon and two halfs under my belt. I’ve been through three pairs of shoes and got the medals and the t-shirts. I bought a cool pair of shorts and some Under Armour for the cold weather runs. Lost every toenail on both feet (not the big toe of course, but I did manage to destroy a big toe nail on the back door. That’s another story.) Bought the ‘26.2’ sticker (not posted yet) and have a drawer dedicated to running gear. Finally, and most importantly, I’ve given unsolicited advice about running.
So I ask my fellow Wanna Be’s – Have I arrived?
I dare say I have and I owe my final prerequisite to Jen – Friend, future runner, and advice recipient.
Oh, by the way, Jen, some great after Christmas sales on shoes and shorts. I mean, I’m just sayin.