​“Oh, well you’re a REAL runner.” 

Rachel Flanagan Uncategorized Leave a Comment

PictureMe with two of my favorite real runners–my Dad and my brother–after the Reggae half marathon in Jamaica in 2011.


Debate me if you like (and you’re more than welcome to) but what in the world is a REAL runner?

Here’s my definition: a real runner is someone who runs. Regardless of pace.

I realize I’m being captain obvious here, but I think there’s a misguided idea out there that there are several tiers of everyday runners. Aside from the Olympic level runners like Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan, I think there are only a few categories:

  1. Casual runners who enjoy it to stay in shape or run with friends;
  2. Endurance runners who train and run races longer than a 5k;
  3. Speed racers, who speed train and are always looking to PR on short races.

And then there’s this: “well, I’m just a jogger.” Sorry, again – you’re still a runner. It’s all the same to me.

This is how a real runner goes out for a run:

  1. Puts sneakers on.
  2. Laces them up.
  3. Heads out the door.
  4. Puts one foot in front of the other, at whatever pace feels right or needed for your goal. Period.

This may seem like a rant, but it’s only because I feel strongly that we are ALL runners if you get out there and get going. One of the many things I love about doing races is the variety of people I see (and talk to – I am one of those people) along the way. Fast, slow, shuffling, smiling, grimacing, a little overweight, a little underweight, seniors, teenagers—you get the idea. It’s a beautiful cross section of society.

So here’s my request: if you’ve ever felt like you’re too slow to do a race or join a running club/group, just get past that. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s actually really fun to run with other people, and there’s usually someone in the group who runs your pace. So join. Race, if that interests you. If you put in the work, running will reward you. Having someone drape a medal over your neck to reward you for something you trained hard for feels amazing, and it’s open to everyone.

As Brian says in his essay at the end of the Breakfast Club, “You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.” And in my dictionary, we all match the definition of a runner.

Happy spring running season, everyone! Get out there and enjoy the cool mornings and warm afternoons!

PS: If you happen to live in the Chapel Hill or North Chatham area, why not run the Run for the Mariners 5k? All proceeds go to Perry Harrison Elementary school! My 8-year-old son James and I will be running together, along with my cousin Robin. I hope to see you out there!

10 workouts you can do in the comfort of your own home--even in your kids' playroom!
We respect your privacy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *