It seems like a simple enough question. So why do I struggle with how to answer it? For me, I guess the answer depends on who is asking.
When a medical provider is checking my heart rate or blood pressure, then it is a definite, “Yes, I’m a runner.”
When someone sees me leaving the Y or returning from a pre-dawn workout, then my response is easy, “Yes, I enjoy getting outside and running around town.”
I am friends with some people who I consider runners. Justin and Gerald come to the Y for some treadmill and cross-training before their regular group runs in the evening. They put in the miles, they run trails for fun, and their hard work really shows. Justin completed a 50 mile event that included a traditional marathon after 20 miles of serious trail running. Gerald is in my age group and is a good two minutes faster than me in a 5K run. What I do is not the same as these guys. They are runners.
I like to compete in triathlons. But of the three disciplines, running is not my strongest. So when asked if I’m a runner in that context, my go-to answer is, “I’m a decent swimmer. I’m learning to ride and I usually struggle on the run.”
Following ‘real runners’ on social media is another chance for self-examination to put me in a different class entirely. Long distances, unfavorable conditions, sticking with a training plan; those things just don’t define me. So I lower my head and say to myself, “No, I’m not a runner.”
An easier question for me to answer is, “do you run?” To that I can usually answer, “Yes, I like to run.” It is something that I really enjoy. It just seems odd that I struggle with the answer when someone asks, “Are you a runner?”
It depends on who is asking.