“I’m a runner…”
“I’m a mountain biker…”
“I’m a golfer…”
“I’m a powerlifter…”
I’ve heard people refer to themselves as these labels at friendly gatherings everywhere. There is however a difference between stating “I’m a runner,” and “I run.” Usually the latter describes the activity you enjoy doing, for leisure or pleasure; where the former generally describes the activity that you practise, routinely, as a part of your paid working profession or preparation towards becoming a professional sportsperson.
I find referring to oneself as a runner conflicting, but also really endearing. I grew up experiencing my family, friends, community and country’s unwavering passion for sports. Sports, whether you practice it or watch it, promotes an undeniable level of endorphins. Even more so, the activities we do and engage in, connect us to like-minded communities where you find a sense of belonging.
Becoming a runner
In 2015, I ran. A lot. It was the first time I trained for a 21km race, followed by a 42km marathon, then a 56km ultra – all in preparation to complete the 90km Comrades Marathon.
I went from 5km per week to a 90km race in under nine months. I joined a great group of people who run together, some who trained religiously every day, some who trained only to complete races, and others who ran with friends, company, and a shared cup of coffee. I soon joined a wonderful community and I too found myself toying with the idea that perhaps I am a runner. I was working all day, and training most of my spare time – running, strength training, mobility – all to prepare as best I could.
I am a bit of a routine rebel, so I really had to work hard to be consistent with my training.
I completed the Comrades Marathon, and I’ve not felt that stoked in many years! I had watched the race on TV as a child and always dreamed about running it, and finally, I conquered this seemingly impossible race. I finished healthy and strong, convinced that I would only get better and faster.
Soon after, I entered the SkyRun 65km high-altitude mountain run. My first time on mountains, on trails even, and I loved it! I felt like trail running was even better suited to my body and personality. I finished fourth in my category, 30th overall and completing this race was an emotional and absolutely exhilarating experience.
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