Do you run? Then you are a runner.
Whether you run a mile a day or you are training for a marathon. If you are smashing PRs or going slow and steady. Whether it took you 3 hours to run a full marathon or 5 (that would be my full marathon average). Regardless of whether your running shorts are a size 6 or 22. If you run on a regular basis, you are a runner.
The other day, I was watching the British television game show, Pointless, as my husband and I often do, when we don’t feel like watching an intense drama or dark comedy. Each contestant typically provides a little tidbit about themselves, as an introduction, before providing their first answer. On this occasion, a woman said “I love to run. I run 6 miles a day and I’ve run two half-marathons.” Then she gestured up and down her body and laughed, mockingly at herself, and said, “I know I don’t look like a runner.” The host, Alexander Armstrong, said, “who wants to look like a runner anyway?”
Aside from Armstrong’s response being rubbish, I said to Gavin, “ugh, it’s sad that she feels she has to qualify it. She should read Fit is a Feminist Issue!”
I used to do this too. Many times, mostly in my thirties, when I was still surprised by myself being a runner. If it came up in conversation that I was training for a marathon or similar (as it often would, because, hey, I am a runner), I would say the same thing as that contestant, “I know I don’t look like a runner.” Giggle, to make sure others knew I might be preposterous too, for calling myself a runner.
I’ve talked before (my first guest post on FIFI) about my Imposter’s Syndrome around fitness.
Here’s the thing. If you run, you are a runner. If you swim, you are a swimmer. If you do any sport on a regular basis, I would argue you are an athlete. You don’t have to perform at the top of your sport, to be considered an athlete. To me it has more to do with the importance it plays in your life and the consistency with which you practice. Let’s stop apologizing, minimizing, qualifying anything relating to ourselves (this extends beyond fitness), especially based on a false notion of “what a runner looks like” or “what fit looks like”.
Believe in yourself. Don’t make something you enjoy so much that you mention it as part of your bio, a joke directed at yourself. The more people say “I am a runner” or whatever sport they participate in, in a way that isn’t up for question, regardless of their outward expression, others won’t question that expression either.
Oh, and to Alexander Armstrong, I love looking like a runner.