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Mile Posts: When Can You Consider Yourself A Runner

When I started running, I wanted to look like a runner.

If I looked like a runner, then in my head, I was a runner.

I bought printed shorts and a handheld water bottle. I invested in moisture wicking socks and a digital watch.

I’ve often thought about when I would become a runner or when others would look at me and think, “Hey, that girl is a runner.”

Sometimes I wonder if I could have given myself that title when I started routinely jogging around my neighborhood in high school, carrying a large Walkman as I moved. I know that when I worked at a local running specialty store in college, I considered myself a new runner, but still a runner nonetheless. When was that moment when I became part of the running tribe?

Some would argue that you become a runner the moment you take your first running step. I would argue that you become a runner the moment you believe you are.

You can run and not be a runner. Hear me out…

I have friends who from time to time run. They have even run races, but they don’t call themselves a runner. In their eyes, they only occasionally run.

Could they consider themselves a runner now? Yes, but the distinction into this club is theirs to make.

If I go out tomorrow and play a game of basketball, I am not a basketball player. I am someone who once played basketball. If I go out tomorrow to play basketball because I want to become a basketball player, am I a basketball player the moment I decide to become one? Do I need to be good at basketball? No. Is there some bar that I have to reach to consider myself a basketball player? No. If I believe I am a basketball player, then I am one.

Does one need to be fast to be a runner? No. Does one even need to consider themselves relatively good at running to be a runner? No. Does one have to run races to consider themselves a runner. No.

I do know that I was probably what most would consider a runner long before I considered myself one. But that was a distinction for me to make.

I considered myself a marathoner the day I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. It didn’t matter that I had only ran 26.2 miles once. I had made the decision that I was a marathoner and not a girl who had run 26.2 miles.

Maybe this logic is flawed or maybe it’s not.

I believe we are what we want to be if we take the steps to be that or become that. The choice of the label “runner” is ours alone.

I am a runner. Are you?

Mile Posts

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Dorothy Beal is the creator of the #irunthisbody and #IHaveARunnersBody MOVEments and the owner of, a website that sells fun running tees and jewelry! She is a mother of three who started running in college as a way to lose weight literally and figuratively and got hooked in the process. In 2003 she completed her first marathon and has run 31 of them since. Sharing her passion for running is one of the things she most enjoys behind being a mom. You can find her writing about life as a runner on her personal blog at and follow her on Instagram, where she shares her life in photos @mileposts.