I think the answer is different for everyone. And I still don't feel like a real runner because I haven't even completed a third week in a row (yet). For me, the feeling of being a real runner is, like everything else, about consistency. It doesn't matter how many miles I've logged, or how many races I've signed up for and completed... it's about the pattern of consistant, everyday self-care.
|Thanks sportsclipart.com for the free use image|
It's also about encouragement.
I was in a particular funk running one day and disgruntled about the monotony of my surroundings... missing the hills, suburbia, and green of my hometown -- really not liking city life, essentially. All while this was happening, my mental thoughts just trailing downward, I happened upon a nice little stretch of "suburbia" without many cars, and more friendly pedestrians.
Jogging towards me was a woman dressed in neon pink and black, her posture and stride clear to anyone that this was just another jog. Another day to do what she loved. And me, shyly looking at the ground, then up at her, puffing out as I start the running portion of my workout, hobbling ungracefully towards her. And yet, she smiled. Her smile was wide, inviting, encouraging without saying a word.
That to me makes a real runner.
She had no judgements towards me. She, a fit veteran, was inviting me into a not-so-secret club. She gave the impression that she loved what she did -- run -- and wanted anyone who wanted to try, to join in. It didn't matter I was no where near to her athletic ability, or stylish ensemble (which, oh my gosh I could drool over so many cute athletic gear), I was still a runner in her eyes.
Which helps me see that too.