Ok, so the sensationalist title may invoke the term “click bait” from some of you, but hear me out because this is a valid discussion. I hear this conversation over and over and have thought about it A LOT over the years as I have evolved as a runner. I didn’t always fully understand it myself, but like many other people had to look internally before I really figured it out. This question is deeper than many would think and takes time, experience, and reflection to really understand. In the end, the answer to the question is…who cares!
Consider myself for example, I happen to enjoy MANY facets of running. I enjoy the act of running, but also enjoy the competitive aspect as well. I run for many reasons, but when I sign up for an event, my intent is to give it my all on that particular day and leave everything on the course. I personally don’t understand things like the Color Runs and other such events because I don’t comprehend why you would want to sign up for something you could do for free (have fun running) without even be timed for it. This is the way I am wired, but should my approach discredit these types of events or the people that participate in them? NO! People have their own reasons and motivations for doing what they do and that is OK! I have heard people call guys like Dean Karnazes sell outs because they spend so much time on stunts, gimmicks, and publicity. Does this mean that Dean Karnazes isn’t just as passionate about running as the rest of us? NO!
To these people, I ask them to step back and look at what guys like Dean and organizations like Color Run have done. Our sport has exploded as a result and has gotten people to get off of their couches. More and more people are finding out what we have known about running since we began our own journeys. My six year old daughter is running the Color Run tomorrow; this will be her first 5K. She is so excited that she has been talking about it for weeks while she continually marks off the days on her calendar. I promise you this, she is going to have a ton of fun and, underneath it all, she is going to have that fun while running! Isn’t that the best, most important part!? Running, over the years, has truly become an all-iinclusive sport with something for every type of person.
This brings me back to my original point. Are you a runner or jogger? My answer is still the same…who cares! We all run for different reasons and motivations. Like fingerprints, the reasons driving each of us to run are never the same. We need to nip this “us versus them” mentality whenever it comes up in the running community. We are a group that is known for being tight-knit and supportive. If you ever find yourself telling someone else “You are not a real runner” (or even thinking it), stop yourself, give them props for doing their thing, and remember that the important thing is that each of us finds that thing about running that brings us joy and celebrate it. And if you happen to run into one of the naysayers, ignore them and do your thing because no matter what, we are all runners!