I saw a post recently that made me sad. It was labelling runners. A friend had said she wasn’t a marathon runner because she hadn’t run the whole way in a marathon. I don’t like labelling people. It judges them, puts them in a little box and it’s unfair. Everyone’s story is different and we don’t all fit the little boxes.
Labelling excludes people more than it includes them and running is the opposite of that. I’m not sure why it should be but it is. If you run, you’re automatically included in the community, in the pack.
I train alone most of the time but I know that despite this, if I see a runner on the street, they’ll probably nod or wave whether they know me or not. I know that my running friends will listen to my training woes and offer helpful suggestions to problems, I know that when I fail in a race, they’ll be there to offer support. We may never all get together, we may be miles, even countries apart but we’re a community. A group. A collective of lycra clad, trainer-obsessed runners. And we’re all in it together.
We may run for different reasons, for a new personal best time, to win a race, to do something we’ve never done before or for peace of mind or to keep the sadness away or to feel the burn of effort in our lung, our legs, our hearts ... but we’re in it together. And we all know the satisfaction of our footfalls on the paths.
|Most of us in this pic hadn't met before Equinox 24|
It never ceases to amaze me that we can come from such different starting points, have such different aims but be able to talk so freely. The 12 minute miler and the 6 minute miler sharing their tales of their latest parkrun personal best or the ultra runner and the club runner discussing nutrition race strategies. Even the solitary runner feels this bond, knows that they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
The Boston Marathon Bombings showed the solidarity of runners. We all mourned the hurt and the felt the horror of it. Miles away, countries away, we were all shaken by what happened to normal people, running people, OUR people. And again it demonstrated our community, our inclusiveness.
So please don’t label us. If we have finished a marathon, whether we ran the whole way, stopped for a few steps at the water station or had to walk for a mile we’re entitled to call ourselves marathon runners if we want to. Please don’t try and take our achievements away with your words. Your opinion may not matter, but why would you want to hurt someone for their amazing achievement?
So let’s agree just to give ourselves one label: runner.