Am I a runner now?

I’ve been running for three years, ten months and nine days (yes I’ve been counting) and I have run just over 1600 miles on almost 330 runs. My run data is one of the most precious things on my phone, (only photos of my children rank higher..), which some may think strange, but to me, it’s my running diary, a record of achievement, and definitely something to be proud of.

More than an accessory
I started running around the same time that I started karate and kickboxing lessons and I soon realised that I was going to have to improve my general fitness levels if I wanted to try and keep up with my predominantly male classmates. And it certainly did help, but it soon became more than just a karate accessory.

10km plateau
As I gradually became able to run for longer, I started to wonder how fast I could do those distances. While I was achieving belts in karate, my running speed and distances crept up but eventually I plateaued comfortably at around 10km (6 miles).

London Marathon opportunity
This was until I was presented with a reason to significantly up my distance quicker than I had planned. In 2015 my husband had a motorbike accident, so I signed up for a half marathon to raise money for a special charity which had come to his aid. I was then offered a London Marathon place by the same charity, with only a couple of months to up my training even more. Even though I didn’t feel ready, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and haven’t looked back since. I’ve now run three consecutive London Marathons, many half marathons and I lead two regular free running groups locally, to help anyone who want to get fitter.

Invincible runs
It’s not been easy, there have been lots of frustrating running niggles that I have wished I could wave a magic wand at to cure, but it’s been a process that I’ve had to go through to get to where I am now. I’ve had runs that I’ve hated, but many, many runs that I have loved. There have been times when I’ve really struggled, cried and wished that I could lay down on the road and sleep, but I have also had runs where I’ve felt like I could run forever. I’ve had runs where there has been so much pain that I’ve not known how I’m going to take another step, but also runs where I have felt invincible. I run in the rain, wind, snow, ice, and heat, and I’ve only had to be collected once mid-run, when I felt so sick I couldn’t run anymore.

Can I call myself a runner?
I’m not an amazing runner, and I’m not super-quick, but I LOVE running now more than ever. Running has been therapy for my mind as well as for my body; I’m more positive, fitter and stronger than I have ever been, and I have found exactly what works for me, from fuelling and hydration, to stretching and running gear. I have two belts to go until black in karate, but with running, who knows? I can’t wait to push myself to the next level of fresh challenges. I think I can finally, legitimately and wholeheartedly call myself a runner, can’t I?