Do I qualify?

A few weeks ago I was out at a festival when I ran into a friend and her mother. I was clad in a tank top and jean skirt (it was hot out) and working on getting a nice burn (sunscreen, I should learn to wear it). Somehow it was brought up that I ran my first marathon and am planning to run another. At this point I noticed my friend’s mother. She was looking me up and down with an odd look on her face. She was judging me. Hard core.

No, I’m not the smallest individual out there. I run next to plenty of women who are 30+ pounds lighter than me and this is something I’ve always struggled with. I’m not particularly quick and I don’t have the physique of a runner. So, should I be allowed to identify as a “runner”?

Now this is something that I struggle with frequently. I will never have that skinny runners body. Non-existent thighs and flat chested?  Yeah right. When I watch others running around me, this is something I always look at.

That and their form. I constantly check people out as I drive by to see their body positioning. Are they over striding? Heel striking? Arms flailing? Does proper body movement make someone a runner? If so, then I don’t qualify on that account either. Although I will admit mine is getting better, I’m more aware of my high arms and make an effort to relax my shoulders.

And then there is the speed debacle. In college, when I was training for 5ks (on a dreadmill), I was able to keep up a much faster pace. I set a 5k PR senior year of college and haven’t come close since. I’ll never qualify for the Boston Marathon (thank goodness I finagled my way in this year), but I’d like to see myself improve.

So what am I? Who knows. For the time being I plan to keep getting out there and doing my thing. People are bound to judge me for it, but such is life.

What about you, are you a runner? What do you think characterizes a runner?

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About Michelle

I'm an engineer living (and running) in Palo Alto, CA.

Posted on July 5, 2011, in Running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. You darn well sound like a runner to me! I’m a new runner (at it less than a year), but I still call myself a runner. I haven’t done a 5K yet and the most I’ve run at once was slightly less than 3 miles, but again I’m still a runner. I’m not fast and have no desire to run a marathon, nor do I have the runner’s build. I get out there, push myself, amaze myself, work up a sweat and feel accomplished–all from moving foward one foot in front of another in a quick pace. I’m a runner! :-)

    • I love that you say you amaze yourself, that is so inspirational. That is one of the main reasons I get out there. And yes, you are a runner and soon you’ll be an awesome CPT!

  2. You are definitely a runner! And your friend’s mom is kind of a wench (no offense!). I hate when people assume that I can’t run a half marathon just because I’m fat. Runners come in all shapes and sizes even if some us do have to really wrap it up on top to not bounce horribly.

  3. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

    You are absolutely a runner! I get so mad over the debate over who is a runner and who isn’t. A runner is someone who runs. Not everyone is a competitive runner, it would be boring if they were. No one debates whether people who play softball on weekends are “softball players” – they’re not trying to make the Olympic team but neither are we :) I’m proud of my running. I’ll never AG place, and I have no idea if I even want to run a full marathon but I think about running a lot and enjoy running and that’s enough for me. I wrote a blog post about this in April because there were some running snobs out there complaining about “fake runners” sigh. Seriously, we are all awesome :)

  4. You’re a runner if you say you are! Just dismiss that mother, and anyone else, who judges you. As she’s looking you up and down, you just remember you have a finisher’s medal from THE BOSTON MARATHON at home. And she can stuff it!!

    Nothing fires me up more than someone who dismisses another person’s accomplishments. Big hugs!

    • My problem has been calling myself a runner and feeling like I own the title. But yes, I do indeed have a finishers medal from Boston. I suppose that counts for something, right? :)

  5. I feel that way too! I don’t feel like a runner and people can be really judgmental. All you can do is own it and realize how awesome you are!

  6. You sound like a runner to me!!! Embrace and be it! Who cares what anyone thinks! They may just be jealous :-)
    I don’t really consider myself a runner since I don’t fully run…still walking and a lil jogging but I am proud of where I am at and embracing it.

    • If I’m a runner then you are most certainly a runner! There are plenty of days that I do the Galloway method, it is a great and I find I can go just as fast that way.

  7. If you run, you’re a runner. Funny that runners are more inclusive on that than those non-runners that judge ;)
    PS, yes I’m a runner

  8. I’ve said this other places, but I’ll say it again: A runner is one who runs. Flat out. That simple.

  9. You’re a runner when you’re ready to call yourself a runner. It certainly doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says.

    • Thanks David, I think my issue has been deciding what will qualify me. At first I thought completing a half marathon would make me a runner, then I pushed it off until I finished my first full. Who knows, maybe it is time I come to terms with the fact that I am an actual, bonafide runner.

  10. Michelle you are a RUNNER! and a strong, amazing one at that! Don’t let anyone (including you) tell you any different! :)

  11. Uh, yeah, you’re a runner. I think it’s a state of mind, with some running shoes to back it up. :-)

  12. Wow, I have struggled with this question for a while now. I am also not the super thin typical runner type body. I am muscular, and curvy and I know that I will never be 105 lbs. and I may never run a marathon. And that’s okay with me. It took me a while to get there, but I totally feel like a runner now. And knowing that there are other runners out there like me that aren’t the typical runner body type is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Weighing in a bit late; I was away when you posted this, and I’m still catching up on my Google Reader items. But I starred this entry because I knew I wanted to comment!

    Besides those couple of months in college, and when I tried to start up again this past winter, I haven’t been running. When I have been able to run, I’ve been able to run three miles without getting completely winded, which is a personal best.

    Thanks to the way my body is, and thanks to compartment syndrome, no one really seems to believe that I’m a runner. I’m a fat (and phat) lady, and because of my disability, I really DON’T run anymore. Or even go to the gym; the elliptical is not hurting my calves when I use it, but it is straining them enough that the next day, walking induces my symptoms. And while I can understand why people don’t think I’m a runner, I still get a bit annoyed.

    Because I *AM* a runner. And you are, too. It’s not so much how we look, or how far/fast we can go. To me, as corny as this sounds, it’s definitely something in my blood. I want to run, I feel great (calves excluded) when I run, and it kills me that I can’t run. My size 12-14 jeans, my love handles, and my dusty gym bag? Unrelated.

  14. I’m pretty sure that if you run, you qualify as a runner. I don’t look like a powerlifter, but I do what I can and enjoy it. Just enjoy it, and don’t worry about those that judge.

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