You turn off the alarm and pull yourself out of bed as quietly as possible. You tie your shoes in the dark, a routine you know so well that it doesn’t matter you are still half asleep. You close the door behind you and set off along the pavement, finishing several miles before the sun is up.
Or maybe, you leave work and head straight to the trail entrance. Your water bottle and Clif bar are on the passenger seat with shoes still muddy from the day before. As you greet the hills, you forget all the all the day’s worries.
Maybe, the alarm goes off and you go back to bed. Your shoes and neon pink shirt never leave the closet because, more than anything, you just want to sleep. Maybe you’ll get out the next day, or maybe you won’t. Maybe this week you just don’t feel like running.
Maybe it’s 3pm and you’re sitting on the floor crying, staring at the race bibs hanging on your walls. You should be at practice. Your shoes haven’t been used in months. Instead, you limp around campus thinking of the PRs you should be making. You beg your body to heal because every day without running feels heavier than the last.
You could be running once a week or finishing your second half marathon this year. Maybe you are trying to get out there as much as possible, but life is a little too busy right now for running to be your first priority. Maybe you’ve hit the wall and dread every track session and feel you’ll never love running again.
But the thing is, you never stopped. It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are, what you’re eating, or how much you’re running. It doesn’t matter if you are chasing an official sponsorship or just run when you feel like breaking a sweat. So many women question if they are a “real” runner because they are slow or run less miles or are injured or are just in a rut. It breaks my heart when I watch girls question themselves and their abilities because they don’t look or act like the runners they follow or see in magazines. It’s time we stop judging ourselves for what we don’t do or for not being where we want to be. If running was exactly the same for everyone, the sport would lose its meaning. The way in which a girl gives her heart to running is as beautiful and unique as she is.
You are good enough, and you do not need to prove it. I don’t care who you are, what your goals are, or how fast you’re going; and neither should you. You should be proud of the way running reaches your heart. You are just as much of a runner as anyone else.