Already, I feel like I have lost my status as a runner.
I arrived home, barely coated in sweat, from a walk this afternoon (I walked with my ankle unwrapped, which was not advised to me, but ended up not hurting, so score!), and looked in the mirror. Despite the a half-marathon t-shirt covering my torso and beat up running shoes adorned to my feet, I did not resemble a runner. Even the limp ponytail was doing nothing runnerish for me.
But if it wasn’t the look, what was it? What does it mean to be a runner?
Dwyer, an older friend of mine, once told me that if you run more than three times a week, you are a runner. So are the injured instantly disqualified from that label? I know what he said was supposed to be motivating — he told me that just days after I bought my first real pair of Asics, and was headed into my first half-marathon. We were standing in his classroom, me halfway through an hour long run, him grading papers and musing about being an adult. It was said almost without focus on the subject of running. He himself is often out with a knee injury, but I doubt he ever does not consider himself a runner.
Identity is a touchy subject. How we label ourselves is how we define ourselves. I often think that I remain a vegetarian partly because I cannot imagine another way. At this point, I know no other identity, nor do I want to alter my current status. If I remove the label of vegetarian, am I still me? If I remove the label of runner, am I?
The obvious answer is yes.
But if there are no words by which to label me, then I am nothing.
Therein lies my issue. Deconstructing myself, dismantling my labels, leads me to nothingness. Or rather, it leaves me a blank canvas that needs paint or wall paper or perhaps a nice three dimensional diorama. I dislike this. I find no issue in swapping labels, or phasing them out. But to take them all away strips me of how I define myself.
And I like defining myself.
Certainly, I am an ever-changing being, and I am open to the possibility and the desire to be more than I am. But I like my foundations. I like where I came from, what I have become, and the staticness of certain aspects of me. I know I am more than a runner, or a vegetarian, or a teacher. But I still enjoy those definitions, those little words that symbolize what I am about.
So to not be a runner, or to not feel like I own that title, is distressing.
End waxing philosophical.