As a running coach, I encounter many people hesitant to call themselves a runner—even if they run most days of the week. Their hesitancy is based on arbitrary standards that they set for themselves. Or maybe worse, someone made them feel bad about their pace or preferred distance. However, just because someone runs faster or longer than you does not mean you are not a runner.
You should not be afraid to call yourself a runner! There is no test you have to pass to be a runner. People may think they are not a runner if they only like the treadmill or have never done a marathon, but that simply is not true.
Much like how someone is a baker if they like to bake, you are a runner if you enjoy running and/or run regularly. Want more proof? Keep reading below!
You are a runner even If…
You use run-walk intervals
As a running coach, I work with a variety of runners–including runners who take walk breaks during runs. Those walk breaks do not make you any less of a runner. Even if half of your run is spent walking, you are still a runner! Run-walk intervals are a great tool for beginners to build endurance. Some runners, even with years of experience, prefer run-walk intervals. Even ultra-runners will often take walk breaks or hike parts of their races–and no one would think twice about calling them runners.
You prefer the treadmill
You do not have to run outside to be considered a runner. Despite what some critics claim, the treadmill is still running. The biomechanical patterns are similar to outdoor running. Do not feel bad if you run on the treadmill, as it does not make you any less of a runner. You may prefer the treadmill for its convenience. Maybe the treadmill is the safest option where you live. No matter your reason for enjoying the treadmill, you are still a runner even if all of your runs are indoors.
You temporarily cannot run
Sometimes you lose your mojo and need to take a break. Some breaks are necessary, such as breaks due to illness, injury, or pregnancy/postpartum. You do not have to run every day or even every week of the year to call yourself a runner. Even though you may not run for six weeks or even longer, you are still a runner. What matters is that you ran before and plan on returning to running when you safely can.
You have never run a marathon
You should not be afraid to call yourself a runner even if you have never participated in a marathon. If the marathon was the litmus test for being a runner, then even some professional runners would not be runners! No one would dare say that Olympic middle-distance runner Emma Coburn is not a runner, just because she has not raced a marathon. The marathon is not a distance for everyone. You can be a runner for your whole life and never complete more than a few miles at a time, much less a marathon.
Some days you don’t feel like running
In all my years of coaching and running, I have never met a runner who is highly motivated every single day. Most runners have days where motivation may be lower. All runners have tough runs that do not feel great. Motivation is not what makes one a runner. Many successful runners quickly learn they have to rely on discipline and routine to run, not on motivation. So, do not think you are not a runner if you have days where you do not want to run. The habit of running is what makes a runner!
You never sign up for races
Just like how you do not have to run a marathon to be a runner, you do not even have to ever participate in a race. Many runners will go their whole lives without lining up at a start line and collecting a medal. Some runners just enjoy running as exercise and stress relief. So even if you never sign up for a race, you are still a runner!
If you are ‘slow’
There is no such thing as ‘too slow’ to be a runner. Running pace is all relative! You may be slower than some runners, but you are also faster than other runners. Everyone except world-record holder Eluid Kipchoge is slow compared to another runner. So whether you are running a 15:00 mile or a 5:00 mile, you should not be afraid to call yourself a runner.