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Run With an Idea #4: Do Real Runners Walk?

The fourth in the Run With an Idea blog debate series, this weeks topic is “Do real runners walk?”

Now, this is a topic that will probably generate a fair bit of commentary, but my guess is that most people are of the “of course they do, and what of it?” camp. I certainly am.

Being a ‘runner’ is not about the pace you go at, nor how far you can do it without walking. It’s about being someone who laces up and runs for exercise, for fitness, for friends, for loved ones, for lost ones, for challenge, to escape their problems, to solve their problems, for joy, or simply just because they can. Nowhere does it say that any of the above must be completed while running and only running.

Run-walk-run is advocated by many people who are serious runners, and have completed many a race just running. It is about getting people involved in a sport that can change people’s lives, not about how fast they do it. Every couch-to-5k programme I’ve ever seen has run-walk-run in it. Even if you aren’t following a schedule like that, most runners start out naturally doing run-walk-run simply because that’s the most they can do, and instead of stopping after one letterbox, one block, one mile, they walk for a bit and then push on for the next. Who can say that person isn’t a runner? Sure, they might not be fast, but they are running.

If you think people aren’t runners if they need to walk, then you are consigning a huge number of people to the wayside. And you probably either need to check your own ego, or have a bit more self respect and confidence.
First off – “ego”. If you think other people are only real runners if they don’t walk, get over yourself. Anyone who has completed any PR distance while running is a runner. Because someone completed a marathon and walked half of it are they not a runner? If you still say “no” then I’m sorry, I think you’re a w&%#€r.
Secondly – “self confidence and respect”. If you think you’re not a runner because you need to take walk breaks, pucker up and stop being so hard on yourself. A lot of people who need to walk when running do so because they can’t run the whole distance, and for some reason means ‘failure’ for them. It’s not a failure, it’s just what you need to do to make the distance. You still laced up and went running, so be confident to call yourself a runner.

I don’t know who first said this, but its an apt way to sign off:
“I’ve met fast runners and slow runners. But I’ve never met a fake runner”.

Now, I’m off for my long run. It’s a rainy day in York and I’m lacing up for a 26km run. And guess what, it’s a TLT session so I’ve got planned 3 minute walk breaks between tempo sessions. Anyone care to tell me I’m not a runner?

Happy running (and walking) everyone!
Get Going, Get Running!

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