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David Freeze: Gotta Run

On being a runner 

I read a few months ago about what it means to consider yourself a runner. Having a runner’s identity means that you think of yourself as a runner and are fine with others having the same perception.  Probably because just like me, you read a lot about running and many of your conversations involve the sport.

I can think of a few people that as soon as I see them coming, I know the conversation will soon turn to that subject. And there is of course the usual greeting, “How’s your running?”

There are many positives in having a strong identity as a runner. Most of us think that consistent running will bring us good health. We think that we are improving our diet and won’t let stress become a major factor.

I have often heard that runners are able to sleep more and better than the average person. Mine is usually pretty good but the quantity has never been great.

Another positive is self-confidence. Since we generally feel pretty good both mentally and physically, it is easy to be confident. Self-discipline gets better too, even during periods of low motivation. In fact, I think that self-discipline overrides a period of lesser motivation. Even on mornings that I know there is a good likelihood that I could use some extra rest, nagging thoughts won’t let me go back to sleep. I have to get up and go get some more of my identity.

But there are a few things that happen because of having a runner identity that might not be the best.

Sometimes runners put blinders on as far as other physical activities that are available. Some of us bypass strength training, cycling, swimming, hiking and team sports in the hopes of getting more running done or because being thought of as a swimmer doesn’t sound quite right. In my case, I would love to be thought of as a swimmer if I was any good at it. But only as a secondary identity. All those other things have been a part of my life for years and I am glad they were.

One issue with having a strong running identity means that we don’t know how to deal with an injury. Injuries happen when you run or when you play baseball, or when you do just about any physical activity to the best of your ability. It is fairly common for running injuries, especially the severe ones, to cause a loss of confidence or even feelings of anger or some depression.

We think that our identity is slipping away. Just missing a day is bad enough but a week or two are enough to derail the train quite a bit with a resulting life void. It’s like living in a sort of fog.

Even if you run just a couple of miles a week, you have at least some level of running identity. I tell the new runners that take our classes the same thing.

That identity keeps getting you out the door no matter how many miles a week you run. In my opinion, running is part of who we are and a very positive thing. When we identify with a positive lifestyle choice, the result is an increase in our chances for a more satisfying and long life.

So get out there and go for a run and enjoy it! Why? Because you are a runner!

Rowan’s best attended race is Friday night, June 9 in China Grove. Plenty of things make this event special.

It is the only true night race in the county and the darkness seems to add to the festive atmosphere of the Main Street Challenge 5K.

There is not a hill on the fast out and back course and there is only one turn. The police and fire departments keep things safe and there are plenty of runners and walkers of all abilities.

With the warmer summer weather comes fewer races. The next race is the Shiloh Missions 5K in Faith on July 1, followed by the Run for the Greenway 5K in Salisbury on July 15.

Look for more information on these events and others at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org

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