Run-It’s who I am.

What does it mean to be a runner? Do you have to run a certain number of days a week? Do I have to run a certain number of miles or time? Do I have to have been running for a certain amount of time? Do I have to race? What if I take a break from running of a month, two months, three months? What if I’m injured and have to take six months or more off of running?

These are all questions I’ve contemplated while out on the trails, especially over the last four months. These questions and other similar ones, have jogged around my head because my ability to maintain a consistent running schedule over the last six months has been seriously compromised by a hamstring injury.

I began to ask myself what it really means to be a runner. I’ve written blogs about being a jogger or a runner.  The defining feature addressed in that blog was speed, but I’m talking about something different here.

I’ve been running for awhile and I’ve run in races from the 5k to the 100 mile. Being a runner is a big part of who I am, it’s more than what I do. It’s not I run, it’s I am a runner. Losing running is like losing a part of myself. Some may think I’m being overly dramatic, but many of you will understand.

Running has made me a better person; more patient, understanding, compassionate, and mindful. It’s given me appreciation and gratitude for what I have; opportunity, health, material objects, freedom, and dreams.

You do not have to run for a specific number of days each week or a specific number of miles, or a specific amount of time. You do have to run on a regular basis though. You’re not a runner if you jog across the street to get lunch every day. I’m comfortable saying you are a runner if you run two days a week for twenty minutes, even if you run walk those twenty minutes. As to distance, it’s whatever you cover in those twenty minutes. Many runners don’t measure by miles. They measure by time.

You can call yourself a runner after you’ve run consistently for a month. It’ takes 21 days to form a habit, and if running has become a part of your weekly routine, you’re a runner.

Now the big question for this post—taking time off. Runners have to rest for a lot of different reasons and runners get injured and have to heal. Sometimes this takes a long time. If you’re still a runner in your heart and mind, if your intent is to get out there as soon as you can, if the reasons for your time off is to make you a better stronger runner, You’re a runner.

As long as being a runner is woven into who you are, you are a runner.

I am a Runner

running vs jogging

Do you run or jog?

Some people think of joggers as less than runners. I totally disagree. If you are out there moving your ass, you’re doing more than anyone sitting on their ass doing nothing. Pace doesn’t matter to me. What matters, is you are doing the best you can with what you have to meet your goals.

Most people who call themselves runners will be insulted when called a jogger. So there must be a difference between the two. In the not so distant past, many runners referred to “running” as jogging. In fact, Bill Bowerman who “jogged” with Arthur Lydiard in New Zealand wrote about titled “Jogging.” For those of you who are not familiar with Arthur Lydiard, he was a well known running coach who is credited with the popularization of running as a sport.

Dr. George Sheehan has been quoted as saying, “The difference between runners and joggers is a race number.” Dr. Sheehan is the author of “Running and Being: The Total Experience.

Garmin draws the line at 8 minute miles, which is their default setting between running and jogging on their GPS devices.

One of my favorite quotes, defines the difference the best:

“Running hurts. It always has. Woolly mammoths didn’t just roll over onto a plate and serve themselves up to prehistoric man with fries and a shake. They had to be caught—and running down a woolly mammoths was a bitch. Guess what? Running is still a bitch. But one with purpose. It teaches us that good things do not come easy. It teaches us that we are capable of more than we think. It teaches us that hard work will be rewarded and laziness will be punished. Don’t expect to learn those life lessons from running’s shiftless stepchild: jogging. Next time you suffer on the roads or trials, suffer proudly. It means you run like an animal.”—Pearl Izumi –

The difference between running and jogging is how you define yourself. For me, I’m a runner.