Defining Myself as a Runner

The stereotypical runner has a lean, muscular build with strong legs that carry her across the finish line. She can run for hours without end, and she is as fast as a Marvel superhero. She owns all of the newest Lululemon clothing and she constantly sips green smoothies. Her fastest mile is under five minutes. Like considering any stereotype, when thinking of what constitutes a runner one is faced with the glaring question: am I a runner? The term runner is subjective. According to Dictionary.com a runner is “a person, animal, or thing that runs, especially as a racer,” but the modern fitness craze has led society down a dark path of guffawing at anyone who does not meet their idea of what a certain type of athlete should be, yet dares to call herself an athlete. If I, a woman with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, was pinned against the stereotypical runner, I would make a fool of myself. Firstly I do not have the “correct” body type (I am five ft. two and an average weight), but more obviously, I use a crutch and cannot run as fast as my slowest able-bodied friends. Unlike my friends, however, I reserve any leisure time in my schedule to run whether it is on the treadmill in the winter and fall or at a local track in the spring and summer. I also have a desire to run. For me, running is not a tedious form of exercise, but rather a nice way to unwind and release stress. The term “runner” should not be reserved for elitist Olympians–or even Paralympians; there is a reason that those terms exist. A runner is one who runs; the title should have no affiliation with one’s diet, attire of choice, body type, or speed. Like anyone else who runs, I am a runner.

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