Thank you to Kate, for writing this piece for my blog. You’re everyone’s favorite inevitable runner.
I have finally realized that I am a runner.
You will now be divided into two groups.
Those of you that know me will be laughing, wiping the tears from your eyes and saying, “You are only realizing that now?”
Those that don’t know me, will be looking at the those laughing and wondering why the hell they are bent double, falling to the floor and unable to breathe.
To the group of you that are looking bemused, let me introduce myself.
My name is Kate and I have been running for about three and a half years. However, during that time I have never counted myself as a runner. In fact I have been pretty adamant about it. I don’t take running that seriously and just count running as something that I like to do. I am not fast; I don’t run far. There have been weeks – no months – where I may not have run at all.
Yet — and this is why those that know me are killing themselves laughing — my day is spent doing many things that are running related. Here are a few examples:
I have been writing over the last two and a half years, a blog that is predominantly about running. I also write about other subjects too; my Son’s Autism, my views on life and other general drunken ramblings. In my view, just because I have a personal blog that revolves around running doesn’t make me a runner.
I have also been active within the Barefoot Runners Society. It’s fun and interesting work, but I see it more of an organizational challenge than running related. This role doesn’t require me to be a runner.
In the last year, I have been coaching some of my friends in how to run well. To me, this is my social life. As we run, we talk, chat, laugh and muck about. I help because it’s an opportunity to have fun. I don’t help my friends run because I am a runner.
In December 2011, I was asked by Canadian Running Magazine to write a weekly blog for their site about barefoot running. I admit my non-runner status is probably on shaky ground now.
Writing for Canadian Running Magazine has been an education into the hidden depths of the running industry. It’s been fascinating and it has appealed to my innate desire to investigate and learn. I love making new connections – both with people and in my writing. Connecting the differing sides and views of the industry has been tough but wonderful. Challenging myself and learning from those experiences does not make me a runner.
If you looked at my Facebook page you would see that at least half of my friends are runners — usually of the barefoot kind. This is a case of like-minded souls being drawn together. Just because we all seem to enjoy running doesn’t mean I should be labeled as a runner.
Is now a good time to admit I do actually run perhaps three to four times a week? Getting out and enjoying the fresh air is my mental reset. Going for a run makes me sane, but not a runner.
You can probably see why the people that know me think my sudden realization I am a runner is humorous. You can also see that I still feel the need to validate my non-runner status. My futile attempts now seem rather hollow.
So why, after all this time and after everything I do that involves running, do I now believe I am a runner.
I am a runner now, because it’s in my gut; it’s a part of me.
Before running was something I did. I enjoyed it don’t get me wrong — I love to run. I always make it my mission to gain some personal connection to my run. I bring joy to my run – I have fun and I try to make everyone I pass smile.
Yet, I always felt that I was viewing running as an observer. Running enabled me to try different things. I became a writer, an administrator, a coach and a friend. When people labeled me as a runner, I always felt it was in relation to other roles that I saw myself in.
The last few weeks, I have been feeling a change in my perception. I wasn’t really aware of what I was feeling until it suddenly hit me.
It was the sense of movement. There was a new awareness within myself. I felt the power of my legs moving. I could feel the breath going in and out of my lungs. My whole body seemed to vibrate as my heart pulsed at every beat. I felt my muscles and tendons – my sinew – release and contract with each step.
I was silent, I was strong and I glided.
The path wasn’t something I ran over – my feet seemed to hardly touch the ground. It was if I was floating over the small layer of air that covered the rocks, dirt and tree roots.
Even though I felt as if I was slow, I realized I was fast. The agony of reaching a certain pace wasn’t there. I hardly seemed to be out of breath and I would look at my watch and realize that I was running minutes faster than I normally would. I felt strong, as if I could continue forever.
Every part of my body worked in unison and running became effortless. Before I realized, I was running six miles and I would just continue. The thoughts of reality and the normal life that was waiting for me were the only reasons I stopped and headed home.
I have experienced runs like this before, but they have always been one-off’s. The occasional run in the midst of the months where there was always one part of my run that was slightly out of sync.
However lately that balance has switched. Now every run feels like it’s perfect. I can see why people run – the primal connection we experience. Running has become instinctual instead of something I have to work at. As I make the next landing, every part of my body is working together as a joyous whole, just as it should be. The reason for us to run as an individual, as a group – a pack — now makes sense.
I have ceased being an observer and have become a part of the majesty of how we move. I have made that connection to why running is essential to our species. Running is now in my DNA. I can’t remove it.
Why would I want to?
I am a runner.