If You Run, You Are A Runner

Written by Erin Mink Garvey, 2015 Berkeley Half Marathon Ambassador

Erin Mink Garvey has called herself a runner for most of her life and is absolutely stoked to be running the Berkeley Half Marathon this year, her first half since giving birth in early August. Since 2007, she has run 25 marathons and more than 30 half marathons and loves the running community and the sport’s transformative effects on people’s lives. When she’s not running, you’ll find Erin spending time with her husband and two daughters; writing on her blog; or cooking and baking vegan deliciousness. She and her family recently relocated to San Jose, California, after living in Chicago for more than a decade, and she is looking forward to meeting more CA-based runners and exploring all the beautiful running locales this fine state has to offer!

erin_gThere are so many clichés out there that remind us of life’s brevity – sayings that urge us to remember that “life is short” and that compel us to “seize the day,” – and while we can all probably agree with these axioms, it is worth asking ourselves what we could be capable of if we stopped standing in our own way and reminded ourselves what it’s like to take a risk every once in a while.

Say what?

As runners, we risk ourselves every time we lace up and hit the ground. I’m not talking about risk inherent in the sense of our physical safety and security; I’m talking more about the mental risk of failure. Every time we put ourselves out there to run, there’s always the chance that we won’t be able to finish our run or complete a workout. There’s always the chance that the little voice in our head that tells us that we’re not good enough, strong enough, fast enough, or ____ enough is right. There’s always the chance that the internal doubt that we feel will convince us that we aren’t “real” runners is right and that everyone will finally figure out our secret, that we’re just “faking it until we make it.”

I’m taking authorial liberty here to remind you of one critical element that underpins this entire conversation: if you run – if you put one foot in front of the other and generally propel yourself in a forward motion – you are a runner.

Distance does not a runner make. Speed does not a runner make.

The courage to take the risk – the risk of failure, the risk of not being able to continue to propel yourself forward, or the risk to prove to yourself that you can, in fact, do it, despite what that little voice wants you to believe – is what makes a runner a runner.

Incredibly, we’re already in the throes of race month for the Berkeley Half Marathon, Relay, 10K, and 5K. As we inch our way closer to race day, it behooves us to all be our own biggest cheerleaders. There is certainly an obvious physical side to running and training to complete endurance events like the Berkeley Half Marathon, but there is also a critically important mental side to training, running, and racing, the side that we have to navigate every time we lace up and thoughts of doubt and sabotage begin to creep in.

Having the courage to not only run and train but also to register for a race like the Berkeley Half Marathon – a race wherein we’ll be surrounded by thousands of our new best running friends – is a big deal. Many people hold themselves back, believing that “there’s no way that I could run a race like that” and therefore, don’t even try.

The courage you have to run, train, and race through the autumnal and eclectic streets of Berkeley is enormous.

On race day, when you feel tired, when you think there’s not a chance in hell you can cover more ground or run another step, remind yourself that you can. You have done it thousands of times before.

You will do it thousands of times again.

Look around you, and remind yourself that all the runners you see bring with them a story, their own reasons for racing in Berkeley.

John “the Penguin” Bingham, an icon in the running community and an author/coach of Marathoning for Mortals, who has turned thousands of people into lifelong runners, says it best: “the miracle isn’t that I finished; the miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

Believe in yourself during your training and on race day; you’ve totally got this. Cheese so hard in your finishing picture that it hurts, and revel in the exhilarating fact that you’ve taken life by the horns, doubt be damned.

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