What defines a real runner?

There it was. In all its glory. The treadmill. Oh, dear treadmill. I take back every negative thought I ever had about you. You are glorious and helpful and the most beautiful piece of machinery ever invented.

At first, the treadmill and I were getting along. It was an easy pace with no incline. My new shoes were feeling groovy on my feet, my body enjoyed the rhythm of the run.

But somewhere in my 15 minutes of test running, the bottom of my foot began to feel tight. It wasn’t pain per se. If called upon to use the 1-10 pain scale, it would have been at 0.9. But I knew that tightness in my plantar fascia was not a good thing on the route to recovery from plantar fasciitis.

Perhaps it was foolish of me to imagine trotting right back into place after a four-week running shutdown. Recovery from an injury is a slow process. One that requires patience and confidence. I understand all of this and yet, part of me wanted to hop on that treadmill and carry on with my next round of half marathon training as if nothing had ever happened. In the uncertainty of what this sensation in my foot meant in my recovery process, I cried and railed at the universe for a moment.

Seriously, universe. I just want to run. I want to get back to making plans for races and goals for distances. I want target dates on my calendar and target paces on my Garmin. I was just starting to feel like a real runner. Why are you taking that away from me?

As the laments poured out, the answers come easily. My average pace doesn’t make me a real runner. Nor does where I finish in a race in comparison to others. Being a real runner is not dependent on outside factors. It only matters how I define myself.

Who do I want to be today? The frustrated girl who wonders if she will ever be able to attempt her sub-2 hour half marathon again? Or the woman who is focused on the challenges and opportunities are in front of her?

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