1. a person, animal, or thing that runs, especially as a racer.
2. a messenger.
3. a messenger of a bank or brokerage house.
4. Baseball. base runner.
5. Football. the ball-carrier.
When Did You Begin To Call Yourself A Runner?
On Monday, I shared that we runners have an interesting phenomenon that occurs when we first start practicing our sport. We are – for some reason – reluctant to refer to ourselves as “runners.” I launched this #RunSurvey to explore this question and share the results with the running community.
This is the first time a survey has been conducted through #RunSurvey. It will be a weekly feature of my blog in the future. Tune in next Monday for the next survey.
For an initial survey, I was very pleased to have 52 results. Of the respondents, their ages varied from 16 through 54.
Interestingly, only 5 of the 52 were male. This could indicate that the readership of my blog is primarily women (highly likely with a blog named One Tough Mother Runner!) or it could indicate that the reluctance to call oneself a runner is more prevalent in women than it is in men.
Not surprisingly, 93% of the respondents had completed a 5K, and 60% completed either a 10K or a Half-Marathon. Of the total, 27% completed a marathon, and one responder completed an ultra. There were also a variety of other responses, with a few training for their first half-marathons in the near future.
Nearly 57% reported running a weekly average of 0-15 miles per week. Those running 16-30 miles per week totaled 29% and 14% reported running an average of 31-45 miles per week.
So, we can say with certainty that the individuals responding to this survey are those who run some distance with some regularity.
One result that surprised me was regarding the question “Do you train with a group, by yourself or both?” Of the respondents, 61% reported that they trained by themselves and not with a group. Conversely, 37% reported that they trained both with a group and independently, and 1 person responded that they train only with a group.
There are two key questions in this survey: “When did you begin to call yourself a runner?” and “This question can, at times, produce passionate opinions. If you have other thoughts to share on this issue, please share below.”
In response to “When did you begin to call yourself a runner,” the responses varied widely. This highest response, at 19%, was “After I completed a 5K” followed closely by a 17% response for “After I started training for a race.”
Of the responses, 14% say that they still do not call themselves a runner, even though they run routinely. Wow.
The real meat of the information of this survey lies in the individual responses provided to the two key questions. I’ll share select responses to these open-ended responses below.
When did you begin to call yourself a runner?
• When I was laying in an MRI tube for a running-related injury! Being forced to stop running due to injury made me realize how much I miss it and need it in my life.
• After I realized there are many “runners” out there who are not like Olympic athletes. Once I started taking part in races and realized I didn’t have to win to be part of a “running group”. I saw that runners come in all shapes, sizes and speeds!
• When I was able to jog through an entire song w/o stopping to catch my breath!
• I called myself a runner when I knew I wasn’t going to give up on running. Giving myself the title of a runner allowed me to look past the hard runs, the failed attempts, and the days that I didn’t want to run. It holds me accountable!
• I was running more than 10 miles a week on a regular basis.
• After four races and consistent training for a few months.
• Not until after I could confidently run over 5 miles comfortably – about 3 months after I started running.
• Once I was able to run 30 min without stopping & completed the Couch to 5k program.
• I still feel weird calling myself a runner – but one day I realized I run regularly even though they are shorter distances and if that doesn’t make me a runner than what does?
• I struggle with this question sometimes, because while I consider myself a runner, sometimes when I slack off on training or get lazy and skip workouts I think to myself ‘a REAL runner wouldn’t do that.’ I see people who are more dedicated than I am, and I consider them true ‘runners.’ I’m training for a 50k next month, so if I’m not a real runner yet I’m not sure when I’ll be!
• I have always thought of runners as the people on the cover of Runner’s World, those in the Olympics, and those who can wear clothes much skimpier than me. Not really sure where this came from.
• I call myself a runner, but only in private. Reason is that for the first 53 years of my life, I couldn’t run to save my soul. I started running on a dare, and was shocked to find out I could see myself improving. But after 53 years, it will take a while before I actually see myself as a runner!
• I had the same feelings you had. I didn’t grow up running, it was just something I decided to do one day. I felt like I was a fake at first, but it started to sink in after my second marathon and then when I challenged myself to run every day for the month of December. Finally I feel like I am a runner on the inside
• I still cannot call myself a runner. AND THAT MAKES ME CRAZY. I can always cheer everyone else on…no matter HOW they do it: run, walk, crawl but I cannot do the same for myself. I can tell you this much… I would never make it as far as I have without the accountability and POSITIVE ENERGY from my running group!
• I still worry that I am not a runner, I’m overweight and feel judged when I go to the running store. *shrug* I know the miles I put in, I guess that’s all that counts!
• I think the term “Runner” is completely individual. When I ran for five minutes without stopping (for the first time in a verrry long time) last week, I was doing mental fist-pumps and silently yelling “Yeeeaaaah, RUNNER!” But to another human being? Nope, not until I can do that 30 minutes without stopping. If someone else calls themselves a Runner after a week on the treadmill, my congrats to them.
• All you have to do to be called a runner is run.
So What Does This #RunSurvey Tell Us?
Each of us has our own definition of what makes a runner. For some, it’s the completion of a race of a certain distance. For others, it is the continuous training effort. Yet, still for others, the term is so lofty is it not achievable for 99% of society.
One thing is certain. Runners hold the term “runner” in high esteem and have a performance expectation of an individual before the term can be self-applied.
Still, there are more questions to be answered.
If an individual runs with a running club, does this make them more likely to consider themselves a runner, by association?
Are women more likely to resist calling themselves a runner, due to the lower emphasis that gender stereotypes place on athletics for girls?
From my perspective, I encourage runners of all levels and types to be more kind to themselves. The term “runner” need not be placed atop a golden platter at a high summit. Be confident in calling yourself a runner.
Thank you to everyone who responded to this initial #RunSurvey. I hope you find the results both interesting and informative. If you have questions you’d like to propose for #RunSurvey, pass them along to me at OneToughMotherRunner@gmail.com. Come back to http://OneToughMotherRunner.com for another interesting #RunSurvey!
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