Defending My Runner Status: Marathoners, milers, 5k’ers, ultra’ers and all those between, are we not all still runners?

It happened again, I was forced into the awkward position of defending my runner status. I was getting some treatment for my foot and got to talking to a man who was also in there getting treatment for his back.

runner in shoe

The all important marathon. What distance is stamped on your runner sole, errr soul, I mean sole?? ;)


“Is this helping you?” him.

“Yea, actually it is and my foot is feeling better…I don’t care if it’s mental or not I’ll take any signs of improvement. Trust me I’m a horrible beast when I can’t run!” me.

“Oh, you’re a runner? I am too, I had been training for such-and-such marathon but once that was over my back flared up and now I can’t run. But I’m hoping to be better to run this-and-that marathon. I’m not very fast though, I’m sure you’d beat me. What marathons have you run?” him.

Two things caused me to pause and formulate a way I could possibly explain to the man that I AM in fact and runner. 1) I have never run a single marathon, let along him using the plural term 2) Obviously this man isn’t going to respect me if I admit to him point one.

What did I do? I sort of side-stepped the issue as best I could, “Well, err, I’m definitely a one-speed kind of person and like the longer distances and had always thought the marathon would be a distance I’d like to race but I haven’t yet…maybe once this foot is healed up?” Yes, I even ended in a question mark leading him to ambiguously interpret that as he wished.

When what I REALLY wanted to do, to shout, was this:

“I haven’t run a marathon, okay?!!? I have friends who have run them and power to all that have, but just because I haven’t doesn’t mean that I’m not a runner either. Sheesh, you know there ARE other distances to run, right?” sort of defensive I know, but that’s how I often feel when put on the spot by others who assume that all runners are marathoners and to earn runner status the two are intrinsically linked.

runner

Hey, even if you're best race is the 5k you are STILL a runner! ;)


I haven’t run a marathon but I consider 4 miles a ‘short run’ and sort of the ‘minimum distance’ for me to go out and feel like it was worth putting my running clothes on for. I feel best when I can get in at least 8 miles for the day.

I’m not a marathoner but I think in miles, meters and minutes rather than dollars and cents, which seems to be the norm for the mass public.

I’ve never run a marathon but I love long runs. I’m not afraid of going long, actually speed is the factor that intimidates me.

A marathon I have not run but I spend more money of running shoes, clothes, watches, socks (where are they always running off to?!) and food (because I run and need to fuel the beast) than anything else. I swear I could probably be driving around in some Porsche if I weren’t a runner.

No, I have NOT run a marathon, but you know what, I’m still a runner. I mean it is in the header of this site after all, so it must be true. ;)

1) Have you run a marathon? If not, do you ever feel trapped into having to explain that you are still in fact a runner?

2) If you have run a marathon or marathons, has your perspective ever shifted to feeling a little ‘superior’ to other runners. Now, I know that could be putting you on the spot, but I think I want to stir the pot a bit, so c’mon don’t be shy and fess up! ;) To counter though to any ‘yes’ answers, there is a guy running under 10 seconds for the 100 meter and I know he hasn’t run a marathon, do you think he’s still a runner? ;)

3) What is your favorite distance to run or race? For everyone, can you list something that makes you a runner or that you are proud to have accomplished not tied to the marathon distance

4) If you haven’t run a marathon, do you plan to or would like to one day?
Like I said, I’m not averse to it, it just hasn’t happened yet…maybe one day. ;)

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27 thoughts on “Defending My Runner Status: Marathoners, milers, 5k’ers, ultra’ers and all those between, are we not all still runners?

  1. this is how you answer future questions like that:
    “no, I haven’t run a marathon yet….I was too busy setting some national records, bitch!” :-P

    haha but seriously, I hate it when people think the marathon is the be-all-end-all of running. I don’t want to hate on anyone, but isn’t a sub-15 5k just as baller as qualifying for Boston? more so, I think. And if you think logically about it, you have to be a runner BEFORE you complete a marathon, cuz like…you have to, you know, train for it. :-P. I’ve never done the full 26.2 and even if my running issues are fixed tomorrow, I still won’t be running – excuse me, I mean RACING – one for a few years yet. cuz I don’t want to RUN a marathon, i wanna RACE one, but i wanna RACE all the shorter distances first!

    • hahaha…u crack me up and i kno u would totally understand. it’s like, “hmmm excuse me but i’m pretty sure going balls to the wall fast hurts, just in a different way, than ur marathon…mmmk!” ;) now going all out fast AND for the marathon *ahem* kara style THAT ballin’

  2. I just ran my first half marathon.

    I never felt pressured to run longer distances because hardly any of my friends run.

    Interesting post. And I think you should not feel like you have to explain anything to anyone.

  3. Sounds like that guy was just trying to brag. That’s all I would have taken it as. I “run” 12 minute miles. I am as fast as some people walking, but I call myself a runner. I think no matter the speed or accomplishments, you are still a runner. And I love the soul/sole pics above too.

  4. I have run some marathons (the last a decade ago). In some ways running one was a natural progression for me as I explored longer races, but in other ways there was external pressure. A non-running coworker did one. Oprah had done one! And my coworkers could care less about a 10K or 10 mile PR, but they were very interested when I was doing a marathon.

    I probably like 15K to half marathon races the best these days. Allows time to settle into pace without going all out from the gun. Think I’m way too fragile these days to train for a marathon!

    • oh, i do blame oprah in part to setting off the whole ‘i’m gonna do a marathon craze’….hehe. i agree tho about the natural progression point u have, i think sometimes people jump to the marathon first and skip out on the fun and fast times of the shorter distances.

  5. I think people – and “runners” – have preferences. I liked the challenge of the marathon and honestly, I felt like I “made it” in the running world when I finished it. Honesty!
    That being said, obviously it doesn’t matter what distance or speed you run – as long as you DO run, you’re a runner!

    • hey, NO WAY am i discrediting ur insanely awesomeness that was ur first marathon and u SHOULD be screaming that u rocked it at the top of ur lungs. the difference is tho that u also respect the other distances too…plus, u kno as one of my first readers u can do no wrong in my eyes. ;)

  6. Everyone has their own preferred distance! I have done one marathon and I’m really proud, but I don’t think it makes me any better than other folks… although I do encourage people to do one if they are interested! It is a great experience. My favorite distance is probably the half marathon, since I also like longer distance training runs, but it’s totally a manageable distance.

    • i agree, go with wat race and distance suits u best and i think all that u accomplish in running, regardless of distance, should make u proud. do ur thang and keep running. :)

  7. I dont think marathons define you. If you run, youre a runner–distance be damned! However, in the spirit of honesty, when I hear people whine that they ran 2 miles the other day and still arent losing weight- “This running thing doesnt work!”. Or when they try to preach to you about pre and post fueling for a 5k–it does get a little grating after you just cleared a 20 miler that morning. But I always wonder if I have the problem. I have never raced a 5 or 10K. So maybe the best thing to do is to just respect each distance and if you have the guts, race em’ all so you can definitivly answer and know what works best for you. I hope to try a 10k balls to the wall someday and see what it feels like.
    In other news, I just have to say you are a kick booty writer. I mean it. Great topics, great banter- you got it girl. You never fail to interest me or make me think!

    • hahaha…okay, so i keep nodding my head during all of ur comment!! 1) ack, at the risk of offending people i KNO wat u mean about people being all braggin about doing a 2mile stroll and while yea i’m glad they are doing something, it’s still in a totally diff. realm of bustin ur @$$ in a 20 miler or track session 2) get ur butt out there for that ballsy 10k…it hurts like a beast in race and training, but oh it feels soo good and u better tell me how it goes!! 3) aww, thanks for the props to my posts too it made my night :)

  8. Firstly I agree with Kate in how you should respond in future. I’ve never run one either, but whenever people ask me about training its always “so when are you going to run a marathon?” Urgh. I plan to one day, but (and this is going to sound arrogant) I don’t want to until I know I am going to substantially sub 3 hr it and be competitive, rather than go for the honor of finishing (even though they are both valid goals). I love distances between 3km- 21km, trail and mountain racing :) I can’t give you one distance coz my fav changes all the time! What’s yours?

    • BINGO!! see i’m with u and kate, any time i step to the line it’s not a “i want to finish” mentality i’m out for blood if u kno wat i mean…lol. and i don’t want to race unless i know i’m in respectable enough shape…i don’t knock on people who just race for fun, but that’s just now me. if i do race a marathon i want it to be a ‘race’ effort for me.

  9. I have run a few marathons and I never think of myself better than someone who hasn’t . I think that anyone who has run, any distance and stays with it is a runner, unless they want to agrue with me that they are not. In my moind they are but I am not the arguing type so I would just smile and say keep up the running.
    I do have to say that my favorite distance to run is a marathon. There is just something about running tha t far that excites me.

    • great comment and perfect way of saying it all. i’m also the same in usually just wanting to smile and tell a person to keep up the great running regardless of the words coming out of their mouth. :P

  10. What a ridiculous man! I am completely with you – the distance (and races) aren’t what make you a runner. It’s the importance of it, the caring about it, the missing it when it isn’t possible, the beauty of it…so much that isn’t distance per se. I hope he learns that himself one day!

    • “It’s the importance of it, the caring about it, the missing it when it isn’t possible, the beauty of it” < — right there is the best definition of the day! succinct and to the point, hats off to u girl! :)

  11. I have run 2 Halves and am trying to qualify for Boston but my real goal is to break 16 minutes on the 5k at the age of 50. I look at marathons as crazy ways for people my age to feel like they are young again. Boston has been a dream since I was 12 but past fulfilling a life long dream, I will only do a few more long races. I was an 800 runner in college and would love to break 1:55 one more time. Point is, running is not what we do. It’s who we are. True runners strive for personal excellence and that translates to life. Distance is irrelevant. Time is irrelevant. Effort is not. I run because I am a runner. I’m not a runner because I run. Make sense or am I just nuts like a lot of nonrunners say?

    • u will get that boston time, of that i know! but i LOVE that u’re still honing ur speed and have time goals for even that blasted 800…u’re a far braver person than me, i dunno if there is anything in the world that could tempt me into a half, i feel lactic acid in my eyes just reading about that. ;)

  12. I’ve run 3 marathons because I got caught up in all of the Boston hype of the weekend warrior set. I love training for marathons, but the race itself sort of sucks – it’s way too long. Don’t love it. The “shorter” stuff is more fun for me right now – 5Ks and 10Ks. If I get the itch to do another marathon then I’ll do one. You can still pursue the 5K/10K just as intensely as the marathon.

  13. I am like you I want to race a marathon not just run one. So after being obesee for years I got my weight under control. I am starting my racing career with 5Ks and am not interested in moving up distances until I hit certain goals with the shorter races. Could I finish a marathon right now sure, especially if I run slow enough. A runner is someone who runs because they want to run. Not because of a race.

    • CONGRATS on how far you’ve come already and good for you in realizing that people are missing out when they skip the 5k and 10k’s…enjoy each distance! :)

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