When I first started running, I had a hard time calling myself a runner. I mean, I didn’t look like a runner. In fact, I could barely run. Or, I guess, more accurately, I ran at a snail’s pace. Surely, I couldn’t call myself a runner until I was able to run faster, go further, finish a race. To be a runner, I was sure, meant achieving some level of proficiency in the sport.
Calling myself a runner wasn’t as natural as other titles, or labels, I have. When I graduated from college, I took and passed the national nursing licensure exam, and BOOM. Registered nurse. Holding the credentials of RN had nothing to do with my level of skill or experience but was based solely on the fact that I had graduated from an approved program of study and passed the national exam. And becoming Aunt Nita had nothing to do with my experience in caring for children. It just happened when my brother and sisters became mom and dad. But runner? Somehow I just couldn’t believe that just because I ran, I was a runner.
Last week, the local running store that coordinates the program I train with kicked off the fall training season with The First Mile event. Runners and walkers came together for a quick run or walk just to kick off the training season. I found myself running beside a guy who looked to me to be an experienced runner. We got to talking, and I found out he was training for a half marathon, his first. He made the remark, “Maybe then I can call myself a runner.”
I recognized those feelings immediately. Been there, brother. But I found myself telling him, “Dude, you’re out here running in 98 freaking degrees. You’re a runner!” (Well, I didn’t say it exactly like that, but that was the gist of the conversation!) But I meant it. Over the relatively short span of my running career, I’ve come to recognize that runners come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Some run just for fitness. Others live for the competition of races (guilty!). But the fact of the matter is, we all run. That makes us runners.
So while I’m completely comfortable calling myself a runner now, I’m still struggling with being able to call myself a cyclist. I’ve only been consistently riding my bike for a couple of months. I’m still learning the terminology, and I ride in running gear. In fact, I’m still trying to ride at a pace (or is it speed???) of 15 miles per hour. And I have a lot of work to do on balance. I feel like I’m going to topple over if I take one hand off the handlebars when the bike is in motion. But…I ride a bike.
On my recent trip to Indiana I took my bike with me. That’s a sign of a cyclist, right?
So I do a lot of things that cyclists do, but I’m just not so sure I can call myself a cyclist yet. Somehow, I feel like an imposter calling myself a cyclist. I’m back in that spot of feeling like I need to gain some level of skill and proficiency before I can claim the title.
Maybe if I put some qualifications on the title…I’m a wannabe cyclist. Or a novice cyclist. Maybe a baby beginner or newbie cyclist? Yeah, those I feel okay with. Maybe when I finish my first duathlon, I can call myself a cyclist!
What are some “titles” that you have?