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  • Writer's pictureMichael Van Elsberg

The Runner's Mentality

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

What does it take for someone to actually consider themselves to be a runner rather than just someone who runs? Is it how far, how fast, or how often you run that makes you a runner? Does it matter? As the time remaining before my trip to Hong Kong is rapidly approaching, a reflection on whether or not I self-identify as a runner seems to be more and more relevant.

The smaller goal has been, from the beginning, to just get out there. I'm doing that. But does how I feel about it really make a difference? And if so, to what degree? What does it take beyond the objective, scientific metrics of time-on-feet and VO2 max and furthest distance run, with elevation, under conditions as close to those as the actual event as possible, to qualify? And, especially, what will it take to keep going and incrementally increase the necessary habits to get there (to the big goal)? Surely speed is important. Surely distance is also important. But just how important, exactly, is having the right mindset?

This morning's run was not particularly far or fast. I got to bed late last night (a failure on my part) and lingered a little longer than I should have before getting out there (another failure) --which also limits the amount of time I have to get ready for work and do such important things as eat breakfast (check) and pack a lunch (nope). These little things add up. It's a very delicate balancing act. Sleep, for example, is so important--as is keeping a regular schedule (sill working on it). But I did get out there.

Until now I would only say that I run--even though I have put in a relatively high number of total miles and can run for many hours--and I am getting faster. But I still just don't feel like a runner. For me running is still too often a chore, and I still have to force myself, on occasion, just to get out there. There are also still too many people who pass me (and, to a lessor extent, Chris) on the trails and for whom running appears to be effortless. Surely those people are runners (although we often pass them later, as we're usually going much farther, and which gives us both a certain measure of satisfaction).

I believe that it does matter whether or I not I feel like a runner, and I'm going to have to transform myself mentally in order to succeed. To be fair, however, Chris and I have been training for more than three years already, so that's something. One of the principles that Chris and I keep stressing is incrementalism, and I am confident that we've laid a solid foundation for future success--so far.

To get to the next level, however, I believe that I will personally have to have to change my mindset. You reach a point in your training where ramping it up another notch is harder than before and it takes digging deeper, and finding out who you really are to keep moving forward (another one of our principles--keep going). It's time, for me at least, to change my mental attitude. I am adding this little mantra to my routine: I will go faster. I will go farther. I will keep moving forward. I am a runner.

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