I was recently talking to a friend about how one of her friends runs long distances even when he’s not in training and runs marathons on whims. I immediately blurted out “I wish I could do that, but I’m one of those runners that has to work to be a runner.” At first, this made me feel a little uncomfortable, but the more I think about it, the more it’s helped me to understand how and why I run.
I can’t just jump out of bed and run 10 miles every morning. Unless I’m peaking during my training or near half marathon race day, that just isn’t something my body or mind will let me do. And that’s completely fine! I just have to work to be able to do that and that’s the fun of it for me. The challenge of running 2 half marathons a year and 1 race a month is what keeps me going. Otherwise, I’d get bored or anxious and stop. And that happens sometimes too!
Right now I’m not running much, but instead doing more strength training and bike riding because I’m not training for a race and I don’t want to burn myself out on running. I don’t want to become mentally exhausted with the loneliness of running long distances alone (though that’s part of why I love training sometimes) and I don’t want to overwork my legs when I’d rather save my strength and energy for a bike ride or some leg presses and squats at the gym.
This doesn’t make me any less of a runner, despite feeling that sometimes my weekly mileage is embarrassingly low. This just means I have to work at it when I want to, and when I don’t want to put in some extra mileage, I can still be a runner while using the elliptical more or focusing on toning my arms. I’m not a professional and I’m not an ultramarathoner. I’m an average person that likes fitness and switching up my routine when I need to, whether that need is mental or physical.