How Do You Define A Serious Runner?

Yesterday, for Will Run For Wednesdays, I dedicated my week to running, exercising and generally maintaining a healthy lifestyle by drawing on one’s own personal commitment reserves. In short, I was blown away by some of the answers — inspired, even.

In case you missed them, here’s what I posed:

  • Can you be a serious runner without a training program?
  • What’s the definition of a serious runner anyway?
  • Is the desire to run faster and longer a requisite part of the job description?

I suppose I underestimate other runners’ sense of compassion and their general variety at times, and assume that, if I’m not posting extremely technical stats from every run, race and even rest period, then perhaps I’m not offering anything of real use to my readers. What I’ve pleasantly discovered, however, is that there really is somewhat of a sub-community of runners out there who, like me, don’t really care about breaking records, making lists, analyzing splits and so on.

We run for the sake of running.

We run for pure happiness.

We run for ourselves.

If a race happens to motivate us every now and then, so be it. Accomplishment isn’t something we fear; isn’t just not something we thrive off of. It’s the cherry on top, sure, but not a sole motivator.

Speed work is speed work; run faster and it will make you faster. Maybe I’m naive, and I won’t be a hypocrite — it’s fun when Noah joins along and times me as I race around the track — but I usually don’t need a watch to tell me that I’m working my ass off. That’s one of the primary aspects I absolutely love, love, love about my daily morning runs; that I don’t have any numbers to hit (except the number of miles I want to run) or people to please (except, of course, myself).

Long runs are long runs; run longer and you will build your endurance. I’ll be honest, every time I run farther than 8 miles, I revel in the fact that only a year ago, that distance was a reach. I am incredibly proud of the level of conditioning I’ve been able to reach, and even moreover that I often do it just for the sake of doing it — not because I’m necessarily training for a particular race.

I guess all I’m saying is this: keep on running for you. Because from the looks of it, that’s what you’re already doing, and I respect the heck out of all of you.

For a little Thursday inspiration to fuel us through the end of the week and weekend, check out these uplifting snippets from yesterday’s comments section (in no particular order). Read them, think about them, and then apply them to your own theories of the sport.

“I think a serious runner is someone who truly loves running for the very act itself and what it brings to them.” – Kasandra Gonzalez-Raux of RunningLongIslandNYC


“I definitely think you can be a serious runner without a training plan. I even think you can set PRs and reach your goals without a set training plan… All of those are components of a laid-out plan–it’s just in your head, instead! I agree that when you’re first starting out, though, it’s best to have it written out. But once it becomes routine, there’s no need to stress over a running calendar. That’s one of the things I LOVE about running – it’s so adaptable.” – Katie Hearn of Fit Butt Fabulous


“I usually have a plan, but I have also found that without one my running feels free and liberating. What I do, is create the plan for improvements sake, and then keep it flexible so I can go out and enjoy a run if the mood strikes.” – Eric, Roc The Run


“I always viewed serious runners as those who would get up at 5 am to in the rain or snow, but I’ve learned that the term “serious” is defined by an individual’s own standards. I slowly built myself up to being able to run 4 miles and I think that’s pretty serious.” – Eat Simply. Live Healthy.


“Am I a serious runner? I say no. My friends say yes because I do run. Like your previous comments, I think it’s in the eye of the runner.” – CJ, 50 Things Before I Turn 50


“I think that the thing that makes a runner serious is the commitment to improve, whether it’s run longer, faster, happier, more gracefully.” – Run Work Breathe Live


“For my first few marathons, I stuck to my training plan like glue. With more experience, (and after a few injuries) I now listen to my body. The other day, I slept through my alarm and didn’t get to my usual class at the gym. So I ran 10 miles instead. And you know what, I felt so much more accomplishment in that run because I hadn’t planned on doing it! I now love being a “free-spirit runner” like you, and… and my knees are definitely thanking me for it!” – Trish

  • What’s your definition of a serious runner?

4 thoughts on “How Do You Define A Serious Runner?

  1. To me, a serious runner is someone who not only runs to live, but lives to compete. And for me, its a compliment to not be a serious runner. Because that means, I can run a race fast or slow, with an eye on the competition, or an eye on the scenery. There’s no pressure, and that’s what makes it fun. To be serious, would take the joy out of running for me. I sometimes take my running seriously, but it always must remain fun.

    • Well put. Sometimes we sound like Jekyll and Hyde, but I think that’s a part of being a runner too; being adaptable and listening to what you want, physically and mentally, on any given day and during any given moment.

  2. I think a serious runner is someone who loves it, even if they aren’t fast or trying to win races. I run because it’s fun, and I race because I love the energy and atmosphere of runners being together!

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