10 Runner Milestones

I’ve always found it odd that so many of us shy away from calling ourselves “real runners”- personally I subscribe to the mentality of “if you run, you’re a runner”. Nonetheless, there are several milestones, good and bad, that lie on the route to feeling like you’re part of the club, and so I thought I’d share mine with you!

The first time you ever go for a run

That nervous, stepping out the front door in your running shoes, feeling like a complete and utter impostor as you attempt to remind yourself how to put one foot in front of the other in a way that resembles running. You feel very far away from the Paula Radcliffe-like gazelle you had envisioned.

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This: not you.

The first time you go running in real running shoes

So many runners head out in shoes that don’t fit, or aren’t even designed specifically for the sport- I was one of them. I eventually upgraded from my two-sizes-too-small gym shoes for a pair of actual running shoes, and my formerly numb toes thanked me for it.

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The first time you run the whole way round your park without stopping

This is a milestone that should never be underestimated. The first time I managed a whole lap of the common without any walk or “stretch” breaks was a complete breakthrough for myself in how I felt both physically and mentally. It was like my world had shifted in some small way.

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The first time you enter a race

The tentative internet searches, the panicked can-I-can’t-I, and the final fuck it as you click enter, surrender your payment details and proceed to prepare yourself for failure, humiliation or death.

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The first time you finish a race

But when you finish your first race- because you always will, no matter how hopeless it seems- you feel an overwhelming sense of achievement and validation. I can do this! I ran! I am a runner! Medal please, swag bag thank you- now I know how Paula feels.

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The first time you almost poop your pants

Worst run of my life, but it happens to all of us. Every once in a while, fuelling, drinking, hangovers and timing conspire to have you panicking and rushing to find the nearest loo. This is it. This is how it happens. Oh Christ. If you’re lucky, you avoid disaster, and you  either tell no-one or absolutely everyone.

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The first time you hit a wall

You go through your running career thinking the wall is just a figment of the imagination; all in the head and therefore completely avoidable. Until it happens to you. Then you know what all those articles in Runner’s World were talking about, and you consume them avidly lest it ever happen again.

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These are the answer

The first time you get injured

When all your hard work starts to give you an odd niggle in your hip, knee, ankle, foot, and you just decide to ignore it because you’re a runner, and you won’t be sabotaged by your own body. Fast forward a few weeks and you’re up on the sofa, almost completely unable to walk, and calling round making enquiries about a phsyio who can see you right away. (Not talking from experience, obviously).

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The first time you make a return after injury

Those cautious steps out the front door, which gradually turn into a gentle jog- always paying attention to every minute detail in your body, and always searching for any hint of pain. It can be easy to forget why it is you liked this whole running thing, especially when it feels so awkward and difficult at first. But hold on, it gets better.

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The first time you hold your own in the running store

The first time you’re able to go into a running store and actually ask for what you want; hold your own about your price range, and stick true to your preferences. Running stores are great places, and we all know the staff are there to help you get the best out of your sport. But having the confidence to stick to your guns when asked whether you’d consider a horrific I’ll never wear that colour or a brand new, £170 shoe you’re sure you probably don’t actually need; well that’s a feeling that lasts a lifetime!

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I know we shouldn’t define ourselves as “runners” or not, but honestly it took me ages to be able to own that title, and these were just some of the steps along the way! Honestly though, I subscribe to the view that we’re all runners here- no ifs, no buts. Even if it took me a while to get my head around it!

When was the first time you felt like a “real” runner?

Lots of love,

Pippa

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27 thoughts on “10 Runner Milestones

  1. For me, my sneakers were 2 sizes too big, my toes didn’t get to the front and only the laces were keeping them attached to my feet but I was running in them. Then someone told me to register for a 5k and a few days before the race, I went to the store and bought an outfit, complete with shoes. I felt like a runner then.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like a real runner to be honest. Every time I get out there I feel like I can’t do it. I once ran a mile for charity though. That felt like a milestone as that’s the farthest I’ve ever gone without walking.

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  3. Mine was the first time I could buy a branded Ladies running T shirt. I was so overweight when I started I could only wear baggy men’s T shirts that I bought in the local supermarket. When I could finally wear an Adidas ladies running top I finally felt as though I was a proper runner even though by that time I had done several 10k races and even a half marathon.

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  4. I reckon sometime early this year, after running most of my life in one shape or form, when I was in my local park. It was dark and raining, and the raindrops were my only companion, caught in the beam of the head torch. I was training for a big event, and this was only just a training run, but I allowed myself to say ‘yay, I’m out here, running. In the pissins o’ rain, in the dark. Maybe I am a runner after all…’
    I know we all love the gear, and they are badges of the trade; we’re all suckers for new gear. But none of it matters if it sits in a box under the bed. Your best run ever may well be a quick jog on the beach, barefoot. Stripped back to the basics!
    Nice post.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t think I actually felt like a real runner until recently when I finished my first marathon. I put in the 20 weeks of training. No slacking off. No excuses. The structure made me feel like I had that runner dedication. I made it through the marathon without stopping too.

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  6. Ahh, this post made me smile soo much! Remembering all of these milestones was a trip down memory lane Especially thinking about the first time I was able to make it around my neighborhood without stopping and also the first time I tackled more than 2 miles at once. I’m of the thinking that if you run, you’re a runner, but I was definitely hard on myself and didn’t really think of myself as a “real” runner until I finished my first half marathon. So silly!

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  7. Ha relate to all of these so much and I still struggle to call myself a runner. If someone says ‘oh you run?’ I always feel the need to follow it with ‘well, I try!’ Or ‘yeah I run, I’m slow but I run!’ I need to start owning it!!!

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