This is an article from Runners World by Marc Parent. I thought it was very good and inspiring. I am giving Marc Parent credit for the rest of the blog post (until I talk about football of course!).
I have a lanyard hanging on the wall next to my desk that I received after giving a keynote speech following the release of my first book. The tag on the lanyard reads, “Mark Parent, Published Author.” I hung it up years ago because it was funny to me in the same way as a tag for an architect that might say, “Architect, Of Buildings You Can Actually Walk Into” or a lawyer’s that reads, “Attorney, Who Argues Cases in Real Courtrooms and Not Just in Front of Mirrors,” or, “Pianist, Who Plays Numerous Pieces You Might Actually Like to Hear.” Several published books later, the lanyard still hangs on the wall not because it’s funny anymore but because I still have days when I need definitive evidence that I’m actually doing what I’ve actually been doing for most of my life.
One of the most surprising things I learned about running when I started was that you didn’t need to earn a lanyard with a hang-tag or any other validating identifier to make your membership official–you were allowed to call yourself a runner from the moment you began. You could make the ugliest attempt at a mile and call yourself a runner at the half-mile collapse. You could call yourself a runner even as walkers passed you by. You could quit for a week or a month, and call yourself a runner on the day of your return. Distance, speed, and frequency didn’t matter as long as the effort was hard-fought and true.
I had a hard time believing that.
During my first attempts, I looked more like a hot, whiny baby than a runner. A hot, whiny baby who could make low, grunting noises that would put goose bumps on a bull dog. As much as I liked the feeling of instant welcome into a diverse, sweaty mob, even after months of running I thought the people who called me a runner were just being nice. It wasn’t a question of whether or not I was really running–I made running look more real that almost anyone on the road–but in my mind, that didn’t make me a real runner.
Most sensible elders of the running tribe will say, “If you run, you are a runner,” and move on to more important issues like what’s for dinner and how far is tomorrow’s run. I respect my elders, especially the sensible ones, and so I eventually gave in and began calling myself a runner, albeit with a kind of mechanical enthusiasm. Here I am. Woo-hoo. A runner, I’d think at the end of a two-mile run. What I didn’t know at the time was that the distance and the speed that would’ve made the statement feel more accurate were illusions on a horizon I’d never reach no matter how hard I drove at them.
The problem with authenticating yourself as a “real runner” is that the distinction is a moving target. If a real runner is someone who goes long or fast, then almost any measure pales in comparison to the person who goes longer and faster. When I finally trained for and finished a half-marathon, I felt an undeniable sense of accomplishment, but even in that bright shining moment I though, Man–those people who do full marathons are the runners.
Then one morning, a small pile of laundry spoke to me. Some people listen to the mysterious whisper of forest pines, the wordless echo of misty mountaintops; I listen to smaller things like laundry. I suddenly realized I had been a runner from the moment I began producing little mounds of sweaty clothes in the corner of the bedroom. Before I ran, there was no mound; now there was. Laundry is not a moving target. It stays right there until you deal with it. Every runner is different, but every runner’s little mound of laundry in the corner of the bedroom is the same. If you’ve got one, then call yourself a runner.
When you let go of conventional standards for what constitutes a runner, the floodgates swing wide open. Take the simple apple. Before I began running, apples on my counter were little more than a thin insurance against starvation. Once I started running, I actually wanted to eat them. Same for the bananas, the oranges, the grapes, and unbelievably, the pears. Running changes everything about a fruit bowl, elevating it from kitchen ornament to a vessel of edible nutrition. If you occasionally crave fruit, eat it, and think it tastes good, you can probably call yourself a runner.
Some people grow skinny when they run, some stay the same, but all of them wear running shoes when they shouldn’t. There is a good chance you can safely call yourself a runner if you wear brightly colored running shoes with a suit or skirt and think it’s okay. The bottom of my closet used to be cluttered with shoes for every occasion. That’s still the case, only now they’re all running shoes (or cousins)–ones for fast runs, slow runs, long and short runs, but also black and yellow sprinters for a night on the town, repurposed old smooth-bottoms for watching football, long-retired holey ones for lawn work, a Gore-Tex pair for fishing, a pair that works on the tennis court, and a pair that is somehow just perfect for coaching baseball.
And only a runner lies awake in bed and randomly thinks, My God, I just ran __ miles! Assume you’re a runner if you’ve ever thought this. The number of miles is not important. What’s important is that the thought has replaced My God, I just ate __ Oreos!
I did a long run one morning because I was going out with friends that evening and I knew a long run would produce that lingering twinge of hunger–hunger for beer. If you’ve ever run to make beer taste better, you can probably call yourself a lot of things, but “runner” is certainly one of them.
The nonrunner’s muscles ache and he gets cranky. The runner’s muscles ache and his eyes spin in his head and he says, “Alive, man, alive!”
As a nonrunner, I distrusted anyone I saw running. Now, when I see runners, I not only trust them, I wonder who they are. I think they could be my friends. I think we would feel the same about everything. We would like the same bands. The runners who frown when I smile and wave just don’t understand that yet. The ones who cross the road to avoid me are only being shy.
You can call yourself a runner when it’s easier to jog short distances than to walk them. When your shoes wear out before they get dirty. When sweating becomes so familiar it’s a nonissue. When quenching your thirst takes two glasses of water. When socks become a point of discussion. When you get the bright yellow shirt so cars can see you. When people stop asking you about running. When they don’t want to know how far you went, whether it was easy or hard, what you thought about on the road, what birds you saw, what falling leaves you caught, the animosities you resolved, the priorities you straightened, the dozens of ridiculous epiphanies you had. The assumption is that you’ve passed over to the other side, and you probably have. You’re a real runner. No lanyard and hang-tag required.
I really, really like that article. Everyone is a real runner if they have the determination to try to run. So go out and do it! I can’t wait to start running again!
Until then, football season should keep me occupied! I know college football technically started on Thursday. I even went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch some of the South Carolina v. UNC game with friends before heading to Bunky’s Cafe for a date. (Bunky’s is delicious by the way if you haven’t tried it!)
HOWEVER, football season doesn’t REALLY start until this afternoon when the Hokies kick off against Alabama!! I know we are supposed to get slaughtered, but this game will indicate that autumn is really here and football has begun! My absolute favorite season of the year! And to keep me busy until the Hokie game, we have a Flyball tournament today! It’s going to be a good day!
And throwback puppy pictures from when Envy was 9 weeks old…my little girl is growing up!!
BTW, this Pizza Biscuit Bake is THE easiest recipe known to mankind. I swear.
Pizza Biscuit Bake
3 1/3 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup milk
2 cans (8 oz each) pizza sauce (2 cups)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
- Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.
- In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix and milk until soft dough forms. Drop half of dough by spoonfuls evenly over bottom of baking dish (dough will not completely cover bottom of dish). Drizzle 1 can pizza sauce over dough. Scatter half of the pepperoni over sauce. Top with 1 cup of the cheese. Repeat layers with remaining dough, pizza sauce, pepperoni and cheese.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.