When have you gotten to the point where you call yourself a runner? Is it when you can run a mile without feeling like your lungs are hurting? Is it when you can run a 5k in under a half hour? Is it once you’ve run a marathon? By the same token, when are you a triathlete? When you’ve completed a triathlon? When you’re training? When you can complete a triathlon in a certain amount of time?
The reason I pose all of these questions is that recently, I was asked if I was a runner and I said yes. Without thinking, just like that, I was a runner. This was a big deal. I had never considered myself a runner. I really hated running (it’s still my least favorite in the triathlon). Once I got into graduate school, I needed a hobby and running seemed like a good one. It’s healthy, fairly cheap, and a fairly easy thing to pick up. So I started running, then started to look at triathlons because if I have to run, I might as well swim and bike too.
So what does being a runner mean to me? For me, that meant that I run at least once a week (even if it is really crappy) and the thought of running 4 miles doesn’t sound daunting. For me, it means that I am committed to my health and fitness and am making slow but steady progress towards these goals. For me, I run, therefore I am a runner. Now, I may not run a 5k in under 30 minutes, and it may be a long while before I run a marathon, but I am committed to running. Honestly, at the end of the day, we are what we continually work towards. So yes, I am a triathlete in training, and a runner, and a cyclist, and a swimmer. I am all of these things rolled into one.
Speaking of all three, let’s talk about the run within the triathlon. The run comes last in the triathlon and is really a true test of your endurance as you are tired and exhausted, but you need your legs to carry you home. That is also why brick workouts are important, so that you can feel what it is like to be tired after the other two sections and push through that to finish strong. What’s the key? Practice so that you aren’t completely out of energy and invest in some good running shoes.