I am part of a local running club in my town. I LOVE it. It is a group for women ONLY and their running experience varies from novice to seasoned veteran. I love the group for so many reasons, but one of my favorite things about this group is the enthusiasm the runners have for one another. There is a sisterhood present and so steeped in the desire to motivate, encourage, and see other women meet their goals — it makes me so happy! I revel in the goals these ladies meet each week — running without stopping for a mile, hitting a PR, completing a first 5k (or 50k!). Let me tell you, these women are amazing.
BUT, let me tell you about the crazy day that made me write this post in the first place. I was going for a 4 mile run and started thinking about how LONG it felt to run 4 miles. I thought, “Why is this so hard?”. The first four months of the year, I had ran over 100 miles each month. I ran a marathon in April, for Pete’s sake. So, what was I doing out here feeling like I was running ten times farther than my actual distance…? And as I pushed forward, I started thinking all I want to do is be a “good” runner.
Being a “good” runner – What does that even mean?
So, for the rest of my run, I pondered this idea-what makes a “good” runner.
Oftentimes, I will hear runners emphasize their pace or distance. By that, I mean, “faster” or “longer” runs are “better” or define a “good” runner (yes I am using a lot of quotation marks here, I know). But I started thinking about that more. My pace is fair and I’ve ran two marathons at this point. Maybe that makes me a good runner. Maybe not. But, I do know that I always want to improve and find new challenges. I started thinking about other runners I know. Some are not as fast as me; some have run distances far past 26.2 miles; some run happy every time they run; some never give up, even through injury or personal conflicts. And that is when I realized, there is no singular definition of a good runner. But, based upon my experiences with my local running community, I think there are some key elements that one should possess to be a “good” runner. Here is the attributes list I came up with while running; I made it from the main attributes of people I know here in my local running community that I would place in the GREAT runner category.
- Heart – Running isn’t for the faint of heart. If running was easy, everyone would do it. We all start out as new runners; oftentimes out of shape or inexperience. If your heart isn’t in it, it is easy to make excuses and stop.
- Determination/Courage – Running makes you face your fears. It can take you places you never thought you could go. There are days you can doubt yourself or think you can’t do it, but good runners still lace up and get out there, despite the odds.
- Goal-setter – The goal is always based upon the individual runner, but always there is a end goal. The good runners are stating their goals, making a plan, and meeting the end goal. Oftentimes, they are encouraging others to do the same.
- Finds joy in the process – Some of the best runners I know that have been running for years can still find joy in the process. Part of that is probably because they are always setting new goals, but the other part may be that they can appreciate running for what it is. If you are running, at any pace or distance, it means you are healthy and able–certainly there is JOY in that!
So, if you can see any of these attributes in yourself, then you can guarantee I think you’ve made the list when it comes to what defines a “good” runner. Running as a sport is a fluid concept, much like life. There are times we will have good running days, and there are times when we will have not so good running days. The point is to enjoy each day as it comes and know that you are worth the challenge.