Are You a Real Runner?

Are You A Real Runner

by guest blogger Mark Remy, Runner’s World columnist and author

In my new book, Runners of North America—A Definitive Guide to the Species, I analyze 23 types of runners, from The Newbie (Lopus novus) to The Serial Marathoner (Lopus pheidippidus), with tongue-in-cheek descriptions of their appearance, habitat, feeding behavior, and so on.

I’ve encountered all of these “subspecies” over my two decades as a runner, and they all fascinate me. But the one I find most interesting is Lopus modestus—the “I’m Not a Real Runner” (INARR) Runner. Because the INARR runner is a walking, talking puzzle. A conundrum. A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a sweat-wicking technical tee.

In the book I describe the INARR Runner this way:

Possibly the most common of all runner subspecies, the “I’m Not a Real Runner” (INARR) Runner is marked by a sense of humility that can range from mild to crippling. Curiously, things like mileage (per run, per week, lifetime), pace, and even number of races under his belt have no influence on the demeanor of the INARR Runner. Whether he runs 5 miles a week or 50, the “I’m Not a Real Runner” Runner will maintain during conversations with others—and especially with other running enthusiasts that he considers “real”—that he is Not a Real Runner.

In other words, the “I’m Not a Real Runner” Runner is someone who runs but who cannot or will not self-identify as a runner. Because they are so common, chances are good that you know at least one of these enigmatic creatures. You might even be one yourself, without realizing it.

Are you? Take this short quiz and see:

  1. Do you tend not to brag about, or even mention, your running to others?
  1. Are most of your running clothes plain and relatively muted in color and design, so as not to call attention to yourself?
  1. Have you ever heard yourself saying, out loud, “I’m not a real runner”?
  1. When someone asks about your running, do you often use the word “just” in your reply? (e.g., “I just run a few miles, a few times a week.” … “I just run for fun.” … etc.)
  1. Do you consider yourself an introvert?
  1. Do you feel uncomfortable or even embarrassed when someone compliments you on your running?

If you answered “yes” to at least two of those questions, you are very likely an INARR Runner.

There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. If you’re a runner who doesn’t care to call yourself a runner, that is perfectly fine. No harm, no foul.

If it bothers you, though, even a little, if this is something you wish you could “evolve out of,” then I have good news. Over my many years as a runner and an observer of runners, I’ve developed a sophisticated method for determining conclusively whether someone is a real runner.

This method comes in the form of another short quiz:

  1. Do you run?

If you answered “yes,” then you are officially a real runner. Congratulations!

I suggest you go celebrate with a run. You know—nothing serious. Just a few miles, for fun.



Runner and writer Mark Remy is a columnist for Runner’s World magazine, author of five books, and creator of—“an online destination for runners who enjoy laughter and pie.” He lives in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about Runners of North America—A Definitive Guide to the Species, click here.


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