Sunday, 16 December 2012

Say It Loud! I'm A Runner and Proud!

I am a runner.

Believe it or not it has taken me a little time before I have been able to say that.

Although I have an audio blog all about running, despite the fact I run at least three times a week (sometimes five depending on my training schedule) and despite the fact I have run two marathons in the last year I didn't identify myself as a runner. I run - yes. But I'm not a "runner".

To me "runners" were people who wore strange little Seb Coe type shorts. "Runners" were people who belonged to running clubs that all seem to end in the word "harriers". In short "runners" were the nerds of the athletic world. I'm not talking about the Olympic athletes I hasten to add, I'm talking about the average kind of people who belong to running clubs. Culturally I just didn't feel I fitted in.

In a similar fashion I cycle quite a bit but I would never label myself as a "cyclist". I despise Lycra and don't feel I culturally belong with "cyclists", this is despite the fact I cycle to work and back every day, cycle more than I drive and probably cycle more than most people who do profess to be "cyclists".

Just to complete the denial and hypocrisy; on the others side however I do think of myself as a basketball player or at least an ex-basketball player. I used to play basketball when I was younger but hardly pick up a ball now. That is because culturally I feel more at home with people who play basketball even though I am not very good. I am definitely better at running than balling.

There are obviously strong cultural elements to how you identify yourself and this is tied up with issues of race and class. To put it simply when I look at people at running clubs I don't see people "like me" but when I look at basketball clubs I see people "like me".

Your identity is not simply what you do but who you feel affinity with. For example my Jamaican heritage is important to me, at the last 2012 London marathon people from all over the world ran and their nationalities were recorded. Not a single Jamaican ran in the 2012 london marathon.

I think that is why I regularly thought of myself as a guy who runs as oppossed to a "runner".

The fact is though I am a runner. It is part of my identity. I might not feel a lot in common with some of the people at running clubs but we share a common passion for placing one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles. Only fellow runners understand the pain and anguish we go through and the joy and elation. To deny our shared experiences is to deny part of myself. And in admitting to myself that I am a runner I feel my identiy has grown and I have been exposed to a new world.

So I will say it loud: I'm a runner and I'm proud.


If I was in any doubt in the picture above I'm the one exhausted in the bottom lefthand corner, I am just like all the other people there

(The original version of this blog appeared on

No comments:

Post a Comment