Am I a Runner?

Chika at the beach in Maui, Hawaii 2014

A few days after the CB 10-miler, I found myself in good company of the RED FOX. When not being a champion runner (4th American at the CB 2010; 22nd overall) he is my affable neighbor with whom I’ve shared many a bourbons and who in turn eats half of my groceries. After talking about this and that, he asked with concern so what happened at the race? He was stumped by my tardiness to the start line. I didn’t have a good answer for him. I clumsily replied, well, I’m always late to everything. He nodded not quite getting it.

A few days prior to my conversation with the FOX, I was patiently listening to my dad lecture me about the importance of fat reserve in one’s body. He thinks I run entirely too much and am exhausting my precious reserves (I wish). He is genuinely worried about my health. My sister too thinks I run a lot. It’s endearing to hear her brag about her little sister who runs marathons. I’ve never run a marathon and I’m her only little sister. So I wonder who she’ talking about.

So this is my life. On one hand I see people who put everything they’ve got into running and competition. On the other hand, I have people like my dad and sister who think I am some kind of supernatural being trying to take over the world with my running. I suppose one is necessary for inspiration, the other for validation of whatever effort I do put in the sport.

As my newly minted doctor-husband-to-be (Dr. Dev for short) says, I shouldn’t compare myself to people who have run competitively all their life. It was comforting advice until I went for a run with him. For a guy who doesn’t run anymore; for someone whose training ended on the track at UNC many years ago; he sprinted the entire 7 miles and left me in dust; all with a sore hip, swollen ankles, and whatever else of his that was broken that day. I shuffled back home many minutes later and declared that from now on I will only compare myself to people who don’t run.

I don’t quite feel right calling myself a runner. I avoid hills; I admit that speed and competition are foreign concepts to me; I arrive to start line 30 seconds before the start; I get trodden by people who don’t run; I get lost a lot. BUT, more often than not, I strap on my shoes and get out the door. I run to clear my head, to be alone, to make new friends, to be outdoors. May be for now that’s all I need to know.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, NC. She writes about everything from travel, food, books, and family. Her current project includes a series of children's books to teach Hindi. She is a native Tar Heel who has also lived in Washington DC and Chicago.

One thought on “Am I a Runner?

  1. Dev is right. You should NOT compare yourself to others who run, but you should compare yourself to yourself. Running is one of the only lifetime sports that one can continously measure his/herself to what s/he did previously. That is why it is so great. Also, everyone has different goals/purposes as to why they run – in order to make running fun, I would USE these reasons to DRIVE your running/training. You will get way more out of it if you enjoy doing it.

    Run in new places, run with new people, run on trails, run up hills…run downhills – basically mix it up as best you can. In doing so hopefully you will run MORE and in doing so hopefully you will run BETTER.

    – The Red Fox

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