Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Definition of a Runner

After I finished the half-marathon, I knew it was just a matter of weeks before I would have to begin my official marathon training. I wanted a slight break from my training regime but I knew I needed to maintain my running base. Thus, I continued to run about 4 days a week but turned the mileage down a few notches. During these weeks, I assessed my most recent accomplishment, feeling proud and victorious while simultaneously anticipating my next running journey. As I begun to share with my family and friends that I was once again training for a marathon, some questioned my reasons for doing so. Quite frankly, I began to wonder as well. What is this relentless force that always drives me back to this goal? Why am I so compelled to run a marathon? What if I never run one? Does it really matter when it is all said and done?

For many years, I have defined myself as a runner; yet, underneath it all, I don't feel as though I can wholeheartedly claim that title. While I have been a "serious" runner for years, something has always felt like it was missing. I have tracked every single run for the past 8 years. I have increased my mileage over time and occasionally focused on speed work, challenging myself to go farther and faster. I've even ran some races (several 5ks, a 10k, and now a half-marathon.) However, no matter what running milestone I reach, there's always a craving for something more...

I often hear people designate themselves as runners while their running routine consists of merely a few miles every few months. There are even those people who might occasionally run a 5k or two for a good cause, but otherwise they allocate minimal time for running. They have not accrued enough miles to experience the ultimate highs and lows of a runner. So, are these folks truly runners? Well, who I am to judge? However, this does bring up the question of what is a runner. Is the title based upon quantity or even quality of miles? Is there a specific requirement to compete in races? Is there some type of running checklist that one should reference before placing "runner" in their biography on Twitter or Facebook? Or, is it simply based upon our own personal experiences and feelings as it relates to running? I don't know what the answer is. I like to think that this is based upon our own personal assessments and calculations but this is merely my opinion.

For me, I feel as though I am not worthy of this title until I run a marathon. Some may say this is complete nonsense and that might be the case. However, there's no denying that something is missing in my running memoirs. I truly believe that there is a certain level of satisfaction and delight derived from this accomplishment that one can not find elsewhere. Again, why am I yearning for such fulfillment? Maybe it's the perfectionist in me that is never quite happy with the status quo or that part of me that is always driven to do more. Let's be honest here, how many people can say that they successfully ran a marathon? So, I am just being narcissistic by wanting this triumph?

As I contemplated this next chapter of running, I couldn't help but ask myself, why must I run a marathon and will this be enough? Yes, I can not wait to cross the finish line and obtain that medal that verifies that I completed 26.2 miles and adds substance to my running chronicles. Although, the truth of the matter is that this goal of mine is bigger than any T-shirt, medal, title, or label.

This goal of mine brings invaluable lessons that have not only enlightened but redefined my existence. This goal of mine reminds me that life is way too short. We often live and ultimately die with so many regrets and tomorrow is never promised. Thus, we must truly seize each moment and follow our dreams.

This goal of mine reminds me that life is about pushing ourselves farther than we ever thought was possible. It is through these trials that fundamental self-discovery and analysis can occur. There have been moments in my training that I simply want to give up, but somehow I find the courage and the tenacity to carry on. This perseverance has also transferred into many other aspects of my life.

This goal of mine reminds me that optimal health is not always guaranteed. My father struggled with Prostate Cancer for nine years until his untimely death; my fiance has faced numerous health challenges that resulted in surgeries; my best friend has underwent two surgeries for back problems before the age of 30; all reminding me to be thankful and grateful for my health. Thus, I savor the fact that I can simply put two feet on the ground and run each morning.

This goal of mine strengthens that voice inside me that says "I can do this." Struggling with issues of insecurity, self-doubt, and lack of self-confidence for many years, this goal challenges me to believe in myself no matter what obstacle I might face. This goal reminds me of the importance of faith and believing in my ability to accomplish phenomenal things.

So as I venture into this marathon journey, I remind myself that this experience is greater than one might initially perceive. It is a chapter in my book that simply put, allows me to become a better and stronger person with each step that I take...


  1. great post. sounds like you're suffering from some guilt about running and training for a marathon. you might want to sit down with your family and let them know how important it is to you, and get their buy in. if it make you happy they will understand and support you.