I am a runner. When I was a kid (and all the way through college), I NEVER would have imagined those words would come out of my mouth. I have always loved sports but hated running just for the sake of running. I was never fast and could never dream of having a faster time than someone, so of course running seemed unrealistic for me.
When I was at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, my friends and roommates had to literally force me to run to prepare for our twice a year 1.5 mile run that was part of our physical fitness testing. I would be just fast enough to finish the run within standards, always discouraged by the amount of time it would take me.
Something amazing happened a few years later, my roommate in Seattle told me about a 5k she wanted to run for St. Patty’s Day. She was able to convince me to do it by explaining there would be beer at the end and it would just be for fun. She was right; I had a blast running along the streets of Seattle on that cool March day.
Over the past decade I have ran three half marathons, a slew of 5ks, and a few other run/walks of varying distances all of the while slowly understanding that I am a runner, but I do not race.
There are people who train extremely hard, devoting seemingly impossible amounts of time to running farther, faster; these people enter races with the hopes of winning a medal or setting a new record. I will always be in awe of these people but I will never be one.
I will always be a runner, not a racer. I believe it is a very different mentality to enter a race with the knowledge that you are pushing your limits but you are also there to have fun, try something different, or continue a tradition with friends or family.
I have friends that will win medals when they enter races, and they set out to do so when they register. I run to spend time with my sister, I run to see new places, I run to clear my mind, I run to refresh my soul.
The best part about this running mentality for me? It is more than ok if I miss a run or two when training for an upcoming half marathon or if I decide to go for a long bike ride instead. This mentality allows me to have a fulfilled life without feeling the pressure of an impending race. Heck, I will be 100% honest in saying that I hadn’t run over a mile in the two weeks leading up to my last half marathon, but I had a blast running the Temecula Half with my sister :).
We have different ways of being active and get different things out of our physical activities; for me, running will always be a part of my life, but it won’t be my life.
Do you run, do you race, or do you see it as all the same?
**Kristie is a regular contributor to the Sierra Social Hub as part of #TeamSierra. Learn more about her adventures on her site: An Appetite for Adventure.