I ask myself this question a lot. Especially these days. “What kind of runner do I want to be?” My philosophy was always that I was fine with being a “slower” runner, you know, in the 9’45” to 10’00” minute mile arena. It was my safety net. If I am here, I will always feel comfortable and if I am always comfortable, I will always run. I’ve never been injury prone in all my years of running, even when I was younger and running 7’15” minute miles. But, even though I was without injury, I was certainly not without pain. Faster running hurts. That’s all there is to it. It wears you down at an increased rate. It takes a lot of work. It takes patience, endurance, it takes heart. I never want to be that runner again because I want to run forever but recently, with a lot of dedication and miles on the pavement, I’m ticking slowly in the 8’20” to 9’15” area. Sunday on my long run, thanks to motivation from some friends, I ran the first 4 miles of my 10 mile run at 9’40” average but ran the last 6.2 at 9’15” average. My shorter runs are coming in at great times and my 5K pace has come such a long way. So, now I revisit the question, what kind of runner do I want to be?
Maybe answering that question has nothing to do with time. Maybe that question has nothing to do with minutes per mile and everything with how I act, the way I own it, the way I run it, the way I breathe it. Maybe it has everything to do with spirit and nothing to do with outcome. Maybe it has to do with lining up at the start with people who used to talk down to me and then waiting for them at the finish line. Maybe it’s allowing the haters to hate and showing them through action that I’m just as good, if not better. I’ve had a lot of people doubt me the past year and truthfully, I’m enjoying proving them wrong. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had AMAZING people cheering me on this year, rising me up, helping me to conquer goals. Maybe the answer to that question is all about celebrating them.
I know that I want to be as fearless as I come off to people. I want to build my confidence so that I learn that maybe I can once again, run with the big dogs. I want to respect my body, make the sacrifices and move the mythical mountains. I want the “proof is in the pudding” realization. I want to eat that fucking pudding. I want to take that comfort zone and crush it, then build a new one and crush that one too. I want to run through the streets like I’m in a Nike commercial (it’s not weird) and metaphorically high-five Lebron James (even if he is a douche). I want euphoria. At whatever cost. What? Two cocktails I don’t drink. One hour I don’t sleep. One unhealthy meal, I choose not to eat. Who cares about those things.
What kind of runner do I want to be?
I want to be inspiring.
I want to be that 21 year old that would look you in the eyes and say: “Not today.” And then whiz by without a second thought, fresh legs taking me through the miles. I want to cross finish lines, kneel to ground, give thanks, and cry. Because I did it.
Yes, I just said that.
So, ask yourself the question, what kind of runner do you want to be?