Are you a Real Runner?

Are you a real runner?

There is a topic I revisit almost every year, and that is: Are you a Real Runner?? 

Spoiler: there is no such thing as a fake runner. 

Are you a real runner?

So when you ask yourself: Am I a real runner, also ask yourself if you aren’t a “real runner” then what are you? A fake one? 

What makes someone a real runner? Is there a definition?  Are you a real runner? Today we will take a deep dive into figuring it out. 

Now that I have worked in the running industry for 7 years, the topic of “real running” is more relevant. Without fail, when I work on the floor of the running store, I’ll normally fit several customers who come in and say they are “only” training for a 5k. They begin comparing themselves to those professional, gazelle-like elite runners.

Or the person mentions they aren’t a serious runner because they “only” run every few days a week. Or even worse: They don’t consider themselves a REAL runner and don’t even have a real reason for it.

So here you are in a running store, picking out running shoes but aren’t a real runner.

What are you?

A robotic runner?

A fake runner?  

Where do we draw the line at what a real runner versus a fake runner is?  Just because you aren’t running marathons or training for a specific race doesn’t mean you aren’t a runner.

  • Some people are walking 30-minute miles, and that makes them happy.
  • Some people are elite runners, and that makes them happy.
  • Some people run when they feel like it and do other activities when they feel like it.

So what all of those people are real runners. 

Next time you are at a race, look around. At every race, there are several different types of racers with different goals.

People are running for a time.  Maybe they are hoping to PR or a break through in their fitness. Maybe they are hoping to run their personal best for the day. No one looks the same and no one has the same goals.

Then there are people at the race looking to finish.  Maybe it’s their first road race ever. Maybe it’s their first time running ever.  Maybe they could care less about a time.  Maybe they are looking for PR.  Maybe they are wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt or wearing a flashy singlet or cool outfit.  Guess what?  They are also real runners.

Everyone at that road race is a real runner.  Everyone running outdoors, on the treadmill, on trails, in the city…they are all real runners too.

Everyone in the running community, we are all real runners. There is no speed criteria, no distance or mileage criteria. There is nothing. It is a club that you can demand to join at any moment in your life. Running is inclusive not exclusive.

You don’t need to justify your membership to anyone.  If you like to run, you are a runner.  If you like to run but don’t race, you are a runner.  If you like to race but never train…you are a real runner.

If running brings you any remote happiness, then you are a real runner.  You don’t really need to justify any aspect of your life if it makes you happy. You can run a 4-minute mile and go to the Olympics or a 30-minute mile.

So next time you ask, are you a real runner…remember: You are and you don’t need to justify it to anyone.

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Questions for you:

Are you a real runner?

What/When was your first road race?



  1. Yes I am a real runner and my first road race was the Binghamton Bridge Run 5K in May 2012. It was on this day I fell in love with running. The running community is what drew me in.

  2. the 2010 Austin half marathon was my first road race. I lived in Austin at the time, so the hills actually weren’t a problem for me back then. I mean, they still sucked, but when you train on them everyday, they aren’t enough to ruin your race. Every time I’ve raced it since then, though, the hills have been murderous because I now live in the Houston area (flat flat flat) and I’m desensitized. If you do train in flat areas, the half is survivable and you can probably still even PR (I did one year). But I would not attempt the full unless you’ve had serious, serious hill training. You will almost certainly want to kill yourself, starting around miles 16 and 17 when you realize you still have another 10 miles left. The fact that the back half of the course is “downhill” isn’t exactly comforting at that point. It would be like if you were being tortured and your torturer was like “okay, I’m gonna stop breaking all the bones in your hands and start working your knee caps now.” Yeah. Not exactly what I’d call a relief. Kinda totally worth it though just to visit Austin, the best city in all the world 😀

    1. I lived out in Texas as well for a bit and it was so flat out there. I went to Austin once and I loved it. Thanks for stopping by Steph!

  3. I am totally a real runner. My first road race was a 5K that I run-walked with a coworker who was doing the Galloway method. I realized I didn’t have to die to love running. I went home, ran two more miles around my neighborhood, and never stopped. Training for my first full last fall, I saw so many amazing people in my training group of all paces doing amazing things.

    Great post!

  4. I am very definitely a real runner. A slow real runner, slow, but I finish, as I like to say. I’m also a competitive slow, real runner, in that I train seriously and want to get faster.

    Sometimes it can be hard to say this when all you’re friends are posting their training runs, 10 mm, which they think is soooooo slow, and that’s faster than your race pace.

    Well said.

  5. I’ve definitely been that person!!! I don’t feel like a “real” runner because I don’t necessarily “train” consistently. I just run a few miles here and there when I can. But I guess that still sort of counts, right? 🙂

    BUT I did just sign up for a 10K in the spring!!! 🙂

  6. Love it! I’m in no way an elite but I’m still a runner and dang proud of it. Everyone at work thinks I’m crazy so if nothing else that means I’m a runner 🙂

  7. While I consider myself a real runner because I do run I do understand where people are coming from. Sometimes I feel like I’m not qualified to blog about running because I don’t run fast. It’s hard because who wants to read about a runner with very slow-average times? At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that as long as it makes me happy I need to continue doing it and not worry about the critics.

    1. You definitely don’t need to be fast to be qualified Angie. You love running and that’s all that really matters!

  8. I worked at a running store and this is exactly what I love about the running community- it’s so accepting because running is hard and everyone who is doing it is working hard regardless of their pace or distance. It’s the same amount of hard for everyone. New runners are so nervous that the running world isn’t going to accept them, but once they accept themselves they realize that everyone is just proud of them for getting out there. This is very well said!

  9. I love your definition- if running brings you happiness, you’re a real runner. I have to admit that when I read blogs of really fast ladies like yourself it makes me feel less of a runner, even though I’ve been running for 3/4 of my life! So posts like these really help put it in perspective. Next time someone tells me they’re not a real runner (or if I think that) I’ll ask if they’re a robotic runner 🙂 Funny!

  10. Love this! This feeling of community was one of the things that surprised me most when I started running. As a back of the packer, I was very nervous I wouldn’t “fit in.” Turns out I had no reason to feel nervous at all 🙂

  11. I’m a real runner and love to run a handful of times per week, but I have yet to sign up for my first road race. I was going to this summer, but still felt a little intimidated by the whole thing, so it’s on the agenda for next year 🙂

  12. This is definitely a tough one. I struggled with calling myself a runner for a long time because I used the run/walk method rather than just running and I was never a fast runner. But finally I realized, it doesn’t matter. I’m running the same races and crossing the same finish lines as those at the front of the pack. If you are running, jogging or walking to’re a real runner.

  13. I definitely struggle with calling myself a runner or a triathlete. I always go with, “I do triathlons” instead. For me, calling myself a runner or a triathlete seems like such a huge commitment! Sure, I do those things… but what if I want to quit tomorrow? If I’ve committed to the identity of “runner” or “triathlete,” it seems like it would be harder to quit if I stop enjoying it.

    It’s weird, but I suppose it’s not the strangest of my neuroses…

  14. I get this comment all the time at Charm City Run. Or people will come into the store saying they need shoes but “they’re not a real runner. They’re “just” using them for walking.” It can be hard to change people out of that mindset but anybody who runs is a real runner.

  15. Yes!!! Everybody that is out there running at the Turkey Trot was DEFINITELY a real runner to me. It doesn’t matter your pace, your shape, size, or fitness level. If you’re out there running, you’re a runner. <3 I love that, more and more, the running community is encouraging every runner of every level.

  16. I am a real runner. Though I have to push the doubt out sometimes, like now, when I’m running only a day or two per week & focusing my efforts on strength training. I try to remember I am doing this to become a better runner when I do start training again.

    1. I think everyone has days to push away self doubt. I’m glad you are able too and hopefully come out stronger.

  17. I certainly consider myself a real runner! But I also consider most people “real” runners who enjoy the sport- regardless of their skill level! First road race was in Boston, run to remember half. First marathon was Disney. happy running! 🙂

  18. I agree with this so much! I’m a real runner- I run, therefore I’m a runner! I hate it when people talk themselves down but I used to do it so much myself, until I realised I was achieving absolutely nothing apart from lowering my self esteem.

  19. I AM A REAL RUNNER!!! No robotics here.

    First road race was in junior high called “positive addiction”. It was a 5K promoting making good choices and staying away from drugs. The entire 7th grade class did it (around 100). I am pretty sure I cam in 3rd to last but hey who’s counting?!

    1. That’s a really cool race theme! There is definitely not enough awareness for kids to stay drug free at that age.

  20. My first road race was the Marine Corps Marathon, HA! I had no clue what I was doing and wore a cotton white t-shirt. I was so nervous I stopped like ten times during the race but I ran with friends and they kept the humor light hearted 🙂 Everyone who runs is a runner. Great post Hollie!

  21. Great post! It’s funny how much this seems to come up with running versus other sports! People who play in a recreational basketball league don’t call themselves “fake basketball players”! One of the things I love about the running community is how welcoming we are – everyone has a goal whether it’s just to finish a race or to PR, and there’s room for everyone no matter what they’re aiming for. 🙂

  22. Even though I joke about being a “real runner” quite frequently, I really believe if you run, then you’re a runner. We say that at work a lot. It’s like Nike’s “if you have a body, you’re an athlete” outlook.

  23. I think I’m just a runner who loves to run, it frees my mind, but being out there during a 5k or marathon and hearing people cheer you on is great, and making new friends and being on the Same field with elite runners like you ,marc,dave, and so many others.

  24. I’m a real runner….a real slow runner 🙂 But seriously, any one that runs (or jogs) is a runner in my book…whether you race or not, whether you run or run/walk. Or mostly walk and run a few steps 🙂

    My first race was in the fall of 2012. I was so nervous. Looking back on it is a bit humorous to me.

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