Friday, February 18, 2011

Identity Crisis

Workout:
2.5 miles - 23:24 [aka super fast awesome all star]

How do you know you’re a runner? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately. Yes, I’ve completed a ½ marathon (slowly and with an unbelievable amount of IT Band pain, but I finished). Still, even crossing the finish line, I don’t know that I’d have called myself a “runner.” I’ve never been athletic. I fall down. Like, a lot. I never really played sports or was particularly active. When I first started running almost 4 years ago, a friend of mine suggested we run a 5k together to lose some of our post-college chub. I ran the 5k in a whopping 39:45. But I was hooked. I started training for the Brooklyn ½ Marathon but then got sidelined by bronchitis halfway through my training and never recovered.  After that, I kept running my short runs, but didn’t really increase my distance in any measurable way. Then I started law school which, in case anyone was wondering, completely takes over your life. I pretty much stopped running altogether for about 2 years.

After a bad breakup last year, I was looking for something to keep me occupied. A friend of mine was training for a fall ½ marathon and suggested I run it too. I remembered how awesome running had once upon a time made me feel and gave it a shot. But I definitely cheated my way through my training. I focused almost exclusively on long runs and completely skipped my weekday runs. As a result, I really aggravated my IT Band. It first started flaring up about 2 weeks before the race, but I was determined to run anyway. So, I carried my right knee through the last 8 miles, finished in just over 3 hours and was sidelined for almost 3 months. Gross.

Now I’m back to running 4 days a week, feeling great, getting faster – but I still wouldn’t call myself a “runner.” Runners are tall and skinny and fast. I’m short with some junk in my trunk and SLOOOOW. Runners feel confident running their short weekday runs, I get nervous I won’t finish my 2 miles EVERY. TIME. I have all the running gear – Henry the Garmin, my amazing compression socks/leg warmers – but I feel like a sham every time I open a Gu packet. Real runners need Gus. I’m not working hard enough to require that kind of fuel. I cried crossing the finish line of my 1/2 marathon – partly out of pain, but mostly out of disappointment. This wasn't the triumphant feeling of "Finally, I'm a real runner!" I had expected. Maybe I'll feel it after my next 1/2 marathon (Oh, I didn't tell you about that? Yeah, more later). Maybe I'll feel it after my potential-possibly-to-be-run full marathon. Maybe I'll never feel it. Maybe that's ok.

I think part of it definitely has to do with how many running blogs I read. It's definitely amazing to see all of your achievements and I'm completely in awe of each and every one of you! But every time I read about your super speedy, super long, super easy runs, it definitely makes my "fast" or "long" runs seem pretty insignificant. I just have to keep remember that it's TOTALLY awesome that I ran an 8:48 mile tonight and it's TOTALLY awesome that I'm going to run 6 whole miles this weekend. And it's TOTALLY awesome that my Bic Bands came, so I'll look adorable doing it :)

Also, let's talk about how I'm going on my long run on Saturday with a GROUP of beautiful fabulous ladies I met on the internetz who can run circles around me. Um, eep much? Yeah, let's not think about that right now.

Are you a runner? How do you know?


2 comments:

MargaretB said...

Oh, Wow. I stuggle with the whole, "Am I a runner?" thing quite often. I am short and have a J-Lo booty so I don't appear to be a runner.... I completed 3 1/2 marathons and a 7.5 mile Turkey Trot in 2010 but I still wouldn't say I am a runner. Loved your honesty in your post.

ituyi said...

I always read your blog. You're not the only one who feels that way. :) There are a bunch of us "not runners" who run 1/2 marathons and 5k and 10 k and are still not runners. :) keep posting!