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I am a runner

Posted by Ty Velde  April 18, 2010 07:41 AM

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If you can walk, you can dance
If you can talk, you can sing

This a Zimbabwean proverb that once I saw on the back of a t-shirt a while ago, and itís something that has always stuck with me. To me, this quote is all about recognizing potential and understanding what youíre capable of. While you may not be the greatest dancer or the greatest singer, that fact that you can walk and talk still means that these are talents or components of the human spirit that live within us all.

After leaving the running expo yesterday, for some reason this proverb again popped into my mind, but I thought of adding another line to it as well.

If you can walk, you can run

The great thing about running is that itís an innate trait associated with physical development. Itís something we all can do. Itís not exclusionary, but rather something thatís all-inclusive. In short, whether youíre running to catch the train or running to finish the Boston Marathon, itís something that as human beings is part of who we are.

What then, is a runner?

If you can dance, are you a dancer? If you can sing, are you a singer? If you can run, are you a runner? In my opinion, the answer to all of these questions is no. While I have been able to run since the time I started walking, Iíd like to think I only became a runner, when I was around 19 years old.

Becoming a runner, was not easy, as its much more than just running. Sure, you need to run, but for me it was a gradual metamorphosis and about incorporating running into my life.

For starters, a huge challenge was creating a routine. While many people start to run and continue at it for a few weeks or months, one of the big challenges is just simply sticking with it and incorporating it as a routine part of your life. However, once you have a routine nailed down, running starts to become easier, as you begin to understand how it fits into your life, not how life fits into it.

Being a runner is also about self-identification. Think about, when someone asks ďare you a runnerĒ and you respond by saying ďyesĒ, what does that mean? To me, itís about saying that running is not just something I do, but its part of who I am. Running is a sport that requires dedication, endurance, patience, commitment and so many other core human values.

So when you say that youíre a runner, not only are you making a statement about your physical self, youíre also showcasing to others a value system.

Being a runner is also about life. For me, running is part of my daily being. The days I donít go running are the ones where I feel something is missing. Running is such an essential part of my life that itís just part of what I do. For me, this was a key transition to truly becoming a runner, as itís almost something now that I unconsciously do, versus consciously recognize. As a result, it has made running a great part of who I am, and in reality something that is much easier to do.

Being a runner is about the marathon.

I mean this both figuratively and literally. From a figurative perspective, a marathon is not about the race, itís about commitment. Itís not about instant gratification, itís about endurance. Itís not about the thrill, itís about passion. To run a marathon, you need to not only commit to the sport, you need to commit to yourself. In short, to run a marathon, you need to be a runner.

From a literal perspective, the marathon is the crowning achievement for any runner. Itís the ultimate test. Whether you finish in 2-plus hours or 6-plus hours, weíve all just run 26.2 miles. However, a marathon is so much more than just a race, in reality itís a journey. Why we all do this, I canít really say. We all have different reasons, we all have different stories, but in the end we all share one common bond that comes with crossing the finish line. Itís that we all are runners.

Good luck!

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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