I don’t think of myself as a runner

I’ve always said I’m not a runner, as I hated it at school, and despite having done a lot of races, until yesterday, I still didn’t think of myself as a runner. But getting myself around one of the hilliest half marathon courses at the Run Macc Fest yesterday, maybe I can say I’m a runner…

I’ve been running since my kids were little, and with the eldest now a teenager, that’s a fair few years of running! I used to run regularly as it was easy exercise to fit around work, the kids and being a taxi service. I found it was a great way to clear my head, get some fresh air and a fresh perspective. But I wasn’t a runner.

Catching the running bug

I ran my first 5km race at Tatton Park in 2009, having run a lot on my own, and since then, I’ve done quite a lot of organised races. It started with Race For Life for Cancer Research UK as a few friends, relatives and colleagues had cancer. And then I caught the running bug, and started going to Park Run regularly, which is a great weekly event with a fantastic community of support, without any pressure to run fast.

Up to now I’ve done over twenty timed runs, varying between 5km and half marathon in distance. And even though I haven’t done a marathon (yet!), I’ve supported friend with her marathon training, so my legs have done a lot of miles over the last 10 years. But I’d never call myself a runner.

To me a runner is a gazelle-like being, who bounces out of bed into their trainers, desperate to go out for a run in all weathers, and often very long distance. Which is certainly not me! Getting myself out of the door can be a challenge, but I never regret it once I go.

I’m a determined snail, not a runner

I’ll never be fast, and I think that is one of the reasons that I don’t consider myself a runner. I run for the way it makes me feel, and as a personal challenge to go further than I have before. And also to just keep going. Running 13.1 miles up some crazy hills was definitely more of a mental than physical battle. The voice in my head has a habit of arguing with me, and telling me that I’m not a runner, and can’t do it. But I did it – continually talking myself into keeping on putting one foot in front of the other, and arguing back against the negativity.

Finally, I feel like I can call myself a runner

Running 13.1 miles has been far more of an achievement than running the distance and getting a lovely medal. It’s made me realise how easy it is to be limited by your internal voice, which has years of beliefs (often based on incorrect assumptions) that can still have a massive influence on how you think. Finally I’ve told my internal voice it’s wrong about me and running, and I’m celebrating my achievements – but more importantly, I’m going to be a bit more critical of what my internal voice says to me in future.

So maybe, just maybe, when the London Marathon ballot is drawn, if I get a place, the internal voice that tells me I’m not a runner, will finally be silenced…