What It Means to be a Runner

Elaine Standohar's picture
Marathon runners

“This year I am going to run my first full marathon." "I’m going to make sure I run every single day." "New Year, new me: Couch to 5k, here I come!” Sound like any resolutions of yours? If so, there are a couple of things you must know before you start your New Year as a runner and attempt to adopt the running lifestyle, because there is so much more to being a runner than simply running.


To simplify things, let’s break down the world into two groups: runners and non-runners. The separation into these two groups seems simple, but it makes all the difference.

To elaborate: When a non-runner meets someone for the first time and finds out that he or she is a runner, they simply hear, “I run a lot.” Nothing more, nothing less. Okay, maybe it’s not that cut and dry all the time. I’m sure there is the occasional thought running (pun intended) through the non-runners mind of, “Yea I tried running once… Once.”

On the other hand, when a runner meets someone for the first time and finds out that he or she is a runner, they hear so much more than, “I run a lot.” Because runners know it takes so much more to be a runner than to simply just run a lot.


Running, like any other mode of exercise, is physically demanding. It’s easy and enjoyable for about 30 seconds, or until the burn kicks in. After that, running becomes challenging and labored. Welcome to the line that defines a runner.

A runner is someone who is motivated, disciplined, dedicated, and focused. Someone who has not only has a strong body, but also a strong mind. Each and every runner is all-too familiar with burning calves and quads. They know too well the painful side cramp. They feel the soreness in knees and ankles, the winded lungs, and the head-to-toe relentless exhaustion that compliment a particularly grueling trail or distance run.

But where running punishes, it also rewards. Because the pain and discomfort that accompany a run are shadowed by feelings of accomplishment, joy, and exhilaration throughout both the duration and at the conclusion of a run. These are the positive vibes that connect all runners to one another and form the tremendous running community that is alive today.

Good luck to all the non-runners with resolutions for a more active and run-filled New Year! You’re about to experience the awesome feeling of what it really means to be a runner.