The Sound Of Running is the running blog of Marcus Ryder it accompanies the audio diary; audioboo.fm/TheSoundOfRunning and twitter feed of @RunningRyder. It charts the thoughts, musings and life of a keen amateur runner who is trying to figure out why he runs and why he loves it.
Warning: this blog will not make you a faster runner, slimmer or fitter. But hopefully it will make you think.
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. PS 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 audioboo.fm/thesoundofrunning )