My husband, Keith, is currently training for his fifth marathon. For those of you playing along at home, that is four more full marathons than I have ever trained for.
Yet there we were, after a group run on New Year’s Day, and we happened upon one of our neighbors. He recognized Keith and said, “Oh hey there! Keith, right? I didn’t know you were a runner.”
Keith looked away sheepishly, gestured toward me and said, “Oh, I dunno. My wife, Adrea, is the runner. She writes a blog.”
As runners (and as human beings, for that matter), we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others. So much so, that we often cannot see ourselves clearly. So much so, that my husband, a man who has run hundreds of miles, has a difficult time acknowledging his identity as a runner.
Sure, he runs differently than I do. I run consistently and constantly as a way to manage the pressures and stresses of every day life. Keith, on the other hand, uses running as a goal-oriented activity that helps him achieve a sense of accomplishment. But just because we go about the activity differently does not make one us any more of a runner than the other.
This begs a very interesting question: What defines a runner?
It is miles or races or paces? Is it consistency or seniority or experience? Is it dedication or enthusiasm or enjoyment?
And most importantly, how does a person know whether he or she is actually a runner? I certainly don’t have the answer.
I know that at some point on my journey, I made the switch. I think of running less as a form of exercise and more as a way of life. For me, that’s enough. That makes me a runner.
Maybe some day — on his next marathon, perhaps — my dear ol’ husband will realize he, too, has transformed into a runner somewhere along the way.
What about you? — Aidz