But I don’t look like a REAL runner.

Have you ever heard someone say, “She looks like REAL runner”?

Body type isn’t a prerequisite for running. Believe it or not, majority of the runners I know and see at races are not a “type”. I know many men and women who are  runners and do not fit the physical idea of one, it really has nothing to do with weight, but more of training level. Just because someone is skinny or fit, doesn’t mean they can run a mile. If they are large doesn’t mean the can’t run a marathon, and fast. Let go of those stereo types, they just hold people down or keep people from trying. Running has nothing to do with looks.

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Let me elaborate a little.
There are two types of runners in my book. I have found this after running for 5 years, over 80 races (different distances/states/seasons), and race volunteering. It isn’t a question of if you ARE A RUNNER or not. It is what kind of runner are you. I have broken it down into 2 types of runners.

Strict or Causal.
Strict runner is someone who trains; I am talking daily or with purpose to increase distance or speed. You will know them by their terminology (fartleks, yasso, splits, taper, tempo, and strides) and commonly known as a “real” runner to newbies or the general public. They are dedicated to a craft, no more of a runner than any one else that laces up. They tend to be thinner with more muscle in legs, which is a lot of the general body type stereotype. Their bodies are typically are leaner because their metabolism runs higher from large caloric burning in distance running multiple times a week. A 13.1 distance burns roughly 1300 calories, a deficit of 3000 calories a week causes a pound of weight lost. Majority of these runners fuel to have energy and calories to burn to maintain a healthy weight. The body image stereotype spun from marathoner ‘s and athletes who run competitively. Hence calling them strict, because they train so strictly. Running is their sport. They spend large amounts of money on races and training programs/specialists because they understand to better their skill, they require outside and in-depth knowledge. Many travel as well to events that they qualify for.

Causal runner is someone who trains for health/therapy. Training can still be daily, but with little or no interest in speed other than their own PR (personal record) and they typically are not “training” form or skill. You will know them by their shoes (lol) Just playing, but I have found this to be fairly accurate depiction. Since most causal runners tend to just lace up and go. There is little or no research or knowledge into running, just action. There also tends to be more injury, lack of form,and hardly any specific training for their pronation and gait. They run to maintain or lose weight, to promote cardio health, and/or to relieve stress. Some even run because they love it being “free” (in both senses of the word) and they require little to no outside or in-depth knowledge to perform. They do so as their bodies allow time, speed, and distance. They usually do not spend time or money on running, unless it is for weather related gear. Causal runners use what they have, to function their fitness. Some will budget races, travel, and gear according to their personal goals or to create memories with friends.

There is nothing saying you can’t move in between these two types. There are levels of each type, from beginner to elite. You can do some of each but be more of one category. For instance, if you do not specifically train, but run large miles multiple times a week or if you specifically run train but use it only for therapy/health and have no intention of using it for racing or growth in distance or speed. I would say the strict runners really focus more on the sport of running and less on the use of it as exercise. Which is why they hate taper running so much, it feels foreign to them to decrease distance because their bodies are so used to higher mileage.  With that being said, obviously we are not really comparing mileage as a strict or casual runner since both levels run whatever distance their bodies allow and what level of their own running is at differs. Some of the best trained Olympic runners do not run distance and some untrained runners can run double digits because their bodies are conditioned to it.

The focus here is on the training style and mentality behind the runner’s intention. The purpose is to help point out the difference, not to make you feel categorized, to show people that run, training does separate runners. Knowledge put into action can completely change your running. It really should every runners TOP priority since running in improper gear and with bad form is a one way ticket to injury.

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What about me? I would be considered a casual runner. Even though I have run around 80+ races, 5k-half marathon, I do not strict train. I do however own all the running gear, educational tools, and even travel to races or am on race teams now, but I do not have a running coach or use a run training program. I really couldn’t be 100% sure of what a tempo run is or how to get a negative split. I have an idea, but have never tested it. This keeps me in casual category.

I am currently educating and learning to properly train to move into strict running category. I will eventually start training so I can run a FULL someday. I am super nervous, but I want to become more disciplined. I want to train, not just run aimlessly. Crazy thing is, I didn’t even train for my first half marathon, not a single one of the 6 of them. So I know I can run whatever distance is ahead of me, but I also know it isn’t the speed I am capable of. Just because my mind can go the distance doesn’t mean my body can, safely. This is where you need that well-rounded training to excel. You can not move forward, no matter how many miles you run without conditioning and guidance. Cue a running coach or training program. Step one of moving toward the strict runner category.

So now you can see running has nothing to do with looks, but everything to do with well…action. Running communities are so diverse and the last thing a runner cares about is what another runner looks like, they are too busy focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.IMG_3683

What group do you associate with most? Do you follow a running and training program? How do you feel about the running stereo types? How important is running in your life, fitness or sport?

Sweat ’til You Shine,

Carleeh

2 comments

  1. Great post, friend! I’m a casual runner, but I’m really starting to enjoy it! I was never a runner in highschool or anything so it’s all new to me, but I love the challenge and since it’s really hard for me, I know it must be good for my heart and my health!

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