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When Is It Okay To Start Calling Yourself A Runner?

What exactly makes someone a runner?

And why does it matter when someone becomes a “runner”?

Well, I guess it’s because we all want to belong to something. And for many people, being a runner is something cool (of course it is!). But for some reason, people have a hard time identifying themselves as a runner.


Probably fear. Fear that you don’t belong to this cool club.


There are no rules in this club. And I consider myself a member. Nobody ever asked me to join. There are no membership fees. No applications. No requirements, It’s just something you’re either a member of, or you’re not.

Again, what exactly makes someone a runner?

And when do you know when you’re one?

It’s a club you join on the very day when you say with confidence & a smile…

I’m a runner!!!

That’s it.

You don’t need to be able to run a marathon. You don’t need to run 5 days a week. You don’t need to be a member of a local runner’s group. You don’t need to have $150 running sneakers. You don’t need to have bright shiny reflective clothing.

And you don’t need to have ever run a race.

All you need is a pair of old shorts, and pair of sneakers, and a desire to hit the road or trail once in a while and feel the wind in your hair (except if you’re like me and you don’t have much hair…)

If you’re still wondering if you’re a runner…

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to determine if you are really a runner!

  • Have you run more than once?
  • Do you enjoy the thrill (or challenge) of running?
  • Do you plan on running again?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you have permission to call yourself a runner!!!

Runners World published an interesting article called You Know You’re A Runner When _____. They asked their readers for answers. And some were pretty clever! I happen to like the one by Josalyn W.:

Someone asks you how far the beach is, and you say,
“2.68 miles, unless you run around the block first. Then it’s 3.77 miles.”

If they asked me, my answer probably would have been something like this:
“You know you’re a runner when…you run 3.95 miles, and have to keep going to get above 4!

It always irks me when I come up just short of the next whole number! But I’m not sure if that’s more because I’m a runner, or because I have quite a few OCD and Type A tendencies 🙂

If you’ve ever run a race, you know that “runners” come in all shapes & sizes…and a whole variety of running forms!

Of course, I’m not one to criticize other runners. I don’t care if you look like one of those funny people from Walmart you see on those Facebook posts your friends send you. And I don’t care if you have to stop and walk a few times during your run. And I don’t care about your running form (other than to help you run more efficiently and make it more fun!). But I can’t help but laugh at this video:

Don’t Be That Awkward Runner

Alright, enough of that. Now that I’ve created some bad karma for myself, let me give offer a little help. Everyone can benefit from a little coaching. Even if you just run a mile here and there. You don’t need to run like an Olympic athlete. But there are some simple tips that you can do that will help you improve your form, make you more efficient, and maybe even run a little bit faster (who doesn’t want that!):

Proper Running Form

Personally, maintaining short quick stride was the most helpful advice I’ve ever received. It helped me run more efficiently. It helped me put less stress on my sneakers. And most importantly it helped me run “lighter”, with less stress on my joints – which for a guy who weights around 195 pounds, is defintely a good thing!

And interestingly, even though I run more like a Clydesdale than a jackrabbit, it makes me feel like I’m running fast. Maybe it’s the science of less friction between my sneakers and the ground. Or maybe it’s just the psychology of doing something the best runners do. Or maybe a little of both. But it feels good.

And anything that makes you feel better as a runner is a good thing!

So check out these tips and give them a try. And let us know in the comments which tips you like the best.

Now, I hope you feel at least a little more confident that if you’re someone who runs, that you can confiedently call yourself a runner!

I’ll leave you with one final perspective. It’s from Trena Roudebush of, from her article What Makes Someone A Runner?

“So, again, I ask: What makes someone a runner? It’s not the shoes, the clothes,
the watch, the speed or the pack. It’s something deeper inside.
Something hard to put a finger on. It’s an essence. A spirit.”



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2 Comments on "When Is It Okay To Start Calling Yourself A Runner?"


It’s of course obvious that Fear is what is keeping many away from calling themselves a runner.
Even though one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived made us to understand that FEAR is simply False Evidence Appearing Real. I call myself a runner even though I haven’t competed in any Olympics.
So far as those sneakers of mine are good to go, so am I.