When Will I Feel Like a “Real Runner” Again?

Marathon training – during 18 mile long run.

Today was my first run post marathon. It has been 10 days since the marathon and I have decided to do a reverse taper of Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon training plan, which means this week I will run three days: 2 miles/2 miles/3 miles. Next week I plan to run: 4 miles/3 miles/4 miles and a long run of 8 miles. I am not sure if I will run the long run yet.

With today being the first run back, I opted for a 1-mile out and back at the local greenway. The first half mile felt pretty awful, my legs felt heavy, my chest hurt, and even my lower jaw hurt. By the 1-mile mark I was feeling okay, and on the second half of the run I felt like myself again. During this run I couldn’t shake the feeling, “when will I feel like a ‘real runner’ again?”

Which is crazy because I have completed 10 marathons, several half-marathons, a few 10ks, and countless 5ks. Then I asked myself, “What is a real runner – what do they look like?” My answer, “anything not me.” I am short, 5’1″, weighing almost 160 pounds (currently 25 pounds heavier than my last marathon), and with short, bowed legs. I thought to myself, real runners are tall, with legs like gazelles who take long, elegant strides. Real runners are clad in “themed” running gear, wearing dri-fit shirts and tanks from recent races, carrying cool hydration bottles and nutrition gels. Real runners show up to run in running groups and all have a cool lingo as they converse and warm up for their fast paced group run.

Do I really believe all these things about what makes a “real runner?” Of course not. I know that real runners come in all shapes and sizes, and all ages. Some are minimalists and carry no gear, while some love and use the newest tech/watches/gadgets. Some run fast, some run slow, some do a walk-run combo, some like to run far, and some prefer to run shorter distances. Some love trail runs, while others prefer roads, and yet others prefer a track. Some enjoy running early in the morning, some at lunch, at sunset, or in the evening. Some love being on a treadmill while others detest them. Some enjoy pushing babies in a jogging stroller, while other prefer to leave the babies at home to get a quiet run to themself.

I know that ‘real runners are those that run, simply that…. they run.

So, why do I not believe this about myself? Why am I still battling with the feeling that I am not yet a “real runner” again?

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