Am I Still A Runner if I Don’t Run A Marathon?
The marathon has been getting a lot of attention lately, especially here at Minneapolis Running as we excitedly prepare for some big fall races. But what if you’re not running a marathon this season? Are you still considered a runner?
Yes, obviously you are, but still, sometimes we may not feel like it.
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I feel your pain, non-fall marathon runners. I, too, will not be running the Twin Cities, Chicago, Mankato, Portland, New York, or any other Fall marathon (though full disclosure, I’ll be running California International Marathon in December). I, too, have spent months or years abstaining from super long distance running. I, too, don’t always want to race. And between you and me, I’m a little salty hearing about all of the races that I won’t be running. (Nathan told me he’s at a point in life where he’s wondering if he will ever be able to run a marathon again. Of course, I know he’s just being crazy – he’ll definitely run a marathon again!)
Without taking part in a popular fall marathon, can we still call ourselves runners? What if we don’t run marathons at all? Or don’t like to race, ever? What is it exactly that defines the term “runner,” and is the sport big enough to embrace us all? I would argue yes!
Are you Still a Runner?
If you’re feeling like you’re not a “real runner” because you’ve never run a marathon or you’ve never had the desire to run a marathon, stop! Yes, the marathon is a very popular distance right now, but it’s not the only distance out there, and it’s certainly not the only hard distance out there!
I know lots of people who run one marathon a year. They train like crazy for 16 weeks, run their race, then don’t do much running until another cycle starts up again. Are they more of a runner than someone who runs 20 miles a week, week after week, and throws in a 5k or other short race every so often? No, obviously not. But if you’ve been reading about running on the internet lately, it can certainly feel like the marathon is what makes a runner, a runner.
If you’re not running a marathon this season (or this year for that matter), and you’re feeling a little less confident about your “runner status,” consider the following:
5ks (and Other Distances) are Hard, Too
If you’re a 5k runner, I praise you – that distance is tough! Huffing and puffing and running all-out for 3.1 miles is no easy task, and one that I, a seasoned marathoner, am terrible at performing. Seriously though, when was the last time you ran a 10k? They, too, are hard and it takes work to get stronger and faster in the distance. Never mistake distance as the sole indicator of difficulty.
The truth is races of all distances can be hard, whether they are 3.1 miles or 26.2. You are no less of a runner for your race distance of choice!
The Marathon Will Always Be There
Maybe a fall marathon wasn’t in the cards for you this year, but there’s always next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. I have plenty of running friends who have careers, and families, and lives that revolve around things that aren’t running, and that’s perfectly okay! Marathon training is time consuming; there’s nothing wrong with putting 26.2 on the back burner.
The great thing about running and racing is that there will always be another race. The marathon, just like the half-marathon, the 10k, the 5k, and even the track, will always be there. You do not need to rush to build up to the marathon distance, you are no less of a runner without it!
If you don’t have the time or mental space to tackle the marathon, try your hand at a shorter distance race, or perhaps don’t race at all. If and when you choose to tackle those distances, they will still be there and you’ll still be a runner!
You Only Need to Run to be a Runner
In the end, you only need to run to be considered a runner. Whether you run 5 days a week, once a week, or once a month, you’re still out there putting one foot in front of the other. The beautiful thing about the sport of running is that it truly is big enough to embrace us all. From elites to beginners, marathoners to 5kers, to non-racers to ultrarunners, all of us get out there when we can to do something we love: run!
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What Makes You a Runner?
Share with us what makes you a runner! Are you running every week? Racing cross-country? Building up to a half? We want to know!