Thursday, September 24, 2015

I ran. So I'm a runner. Right?

It's been 5 years since I've run a race. Since I've gone through the rigors of a training plan. Even since I've played organized sports. Now I hesitate to call myself a "runner." Why?! Reading Ariana's debunking running myths post yesterday helped reiterate something I know but struggle with accepting: that just because I'm not training for a race (or run every day or run over 5 miles every time I go out), doesn't mean I'm not a runner. 

I played field hockey and basketball in middle and high school, and ran a season of track in high school for training. In college I ran two half marathons, and a number of 5k's. I played club field hockey, and we practiced 3 times a week. So I spent plenty of time running for a number of years. I still used air quotes when I said I was a "runner." 

UNC Club Sports 5k, 2008
Half Marathon, Lisbon, Portugal, Spring 2009
Half Marathon, Wilmington, NC, Fall 2010
My last official race.
I completed my NOLS course (which included 18 days of backpacking) in the summer of 2010, and went almost straight into half marathon training. Not a good idea. My bad knee started acting up while backpacking, and kept acting up during training. Never quite felt the same. I stopped running longer distances. After graduation, I took a hiatus from running. I did my yoga teacher training (aka 8 hours of yoga a day for three weeks straight!), swam laps a lot, and did some physical therapy. I knew I was moving to a ski town, and so I needed to get my knee ready for it! 

Two years later, I spent all my time in the Highcountry hiking and skiing, but no running. The altitude and the mountainous terrain on top of a no-bueno knee didn't seem like the ideal running situation. I loved running still, and did it anytime I traveled, but couldn't bring myself to run in Breckenridge. After my third season during which I discovered skinning (skiing uphill, yes, uphill) and skiing almost 90 days that season, I entered some pretty intense physical therapy. My amazing therapist worked me over three times a week for many months, and got me back to running safely and pain-free! My last summer in Breckenridge was spent trail running 3.5-10 miles multiple times a week. I ended up training a bit with my roommate who was running a half marathon at Copper Mountain, but didn't do the race. (Don't ask me why I didn't! I have no idea.) 

My first run in Breckenridge! July, 2014
Running is now back as a staple form of workout/therapy in my life. And I'm loving it! Why I still hesitate to sign up for races again or even call myself a runner, I have no idea. But Ariana makes a good point, who cares if you're running races. It doesn't matter your distance, purpose, pace, or anything else. If you're out pounding pavement (or treadmill, or beach, or trail, or…), you're a runner! Doesn't matter that the closest I've gotten to a race in years is running with Jamie and at the North Portland Run Club (the one time I joined them), or the furthest I've gone in months is 7 miles (and that's definitely not every time I go running).

This morning I hit the trails. I taught a 7am power vinyasa class, will be teaching another at 5pm, and attending a DJ yoga class after that. This is after teaching two classes on Tuesday and going to bootcamp, and going to Wednesday Burncycle spin class and teaching FLY last night. After two intense activity days, and a third on the horizon, I still wanted to get out in the woods and sweat a little. I ran 1.5 miles. Why do I want to use air quotes when I tell people I went on a trail run this morning? I was running and I was on the trail. Ipso facto, I went on a trail run. No, it wasn't very far. No, I didn't break any records. But I listened to my body, knowing my neck/shoulder was starting to hurt again and my quads were sore from the previous two days of activity. That should be more important. I still got out, did what I wanted to do. I ran. So I'm a runner.

Follow the adventures with me! @lizwilsonyoga


  1. Those trails look beautiful. I miss Oregon :( Next time I'm in town, let's go for an exploratory run!

    1. The trails here are goooooooorgeous! Yes! Please hit me up next time you're here! :)