If you had asked me a few years ago “ Are you a runner or a jogger?”

I would have answered, “ I am a jogger”.  I used to think that I could only fit into the jogging category, because of how slow my legs moved.

In 2012 I started signing up for my first races, and it has been a journey filled with so many challenges, self-doubt, and fear. For some reason, I thought I had to run at least an 8-minute mile, in order to even consider myself a “Runner”.

My running shoes became my pride when I hit the ground.  My running shoes are the only shoes I will actually break the bank for, because they become my tools for success. Even finding the perfect pair of running shoes requires planning, research, and a financial commitment, just like signing up for a race.

My journey has also been full of self-love, growth, and discovery. Since I began my journey I have realized that I am a Runner. I am a runner because I am willing to wake up at 3 a.m. in the cold, just to line up at 5 a.m. for a half-marathon with hundreds of other runners. I have never felt fully ready at the start line, but every time the positive thoughts outweigh fear and anxiety.   Each time, I clip on my bib to my shirt with pride, joy, and knowing that I am out there just trying to give it my best effort. Crossing last at a race is never a fear, because I know that I was out there pushing myself, aiming to conquer a new goal, and embracing the challenge.

Now if people were to ask me the same question, my answer is, “I am a Runner, and I would never classify myself as a Jogger”. I honestly only see two categories, when you are actually attempting to run.

You either run or you walk, and your pace time does not put you in a different category just because someone runs faster than you.

I am a Runner, because I run.  My feet are moving forward, and both of them are never hitting the ground at the same time. One foot is always moving in front of the other. Whether I run slowly or fast, I go out there and do my best. I run at a pace that is comfortable for me, and my only competition is ME.

Running makes me feel free, confident, and beautiful by just being myself.

I am a Runner, because I say I am.