On Being a RUNNER

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On Being a RUNNER

Written by Richard Ferguson, Ph.D. on 18 May 2017.

If you’re reading RUNOHIO you’re probably a runner. You might just say you identify yourself as runner. When you make such a personal identity for yourself it’s really a form of social identification about what you love to do and how you want others to think of you. From the time you have spent running, maybe years or decades, you have developed confidence in running, gained much knowledge about running and met many people with very similar interests. Through your identity as a runner you gain motivation to continue to run, learn more about running and interact with others who share your love of the sport. Your friends are often runners, your family may be big supporters of your running and you may even have close relationships with a coach, trainer, or physical therapist.

There are many positives in having a strong identity as a runner. Probably the biggest plus is health related. If you value running and identify as a runner then you will be consistent in your running behavior and are more likely to run on a very regular basis. You believe in yourself and your ability to positively influence your overall health through your running. Also, you may improve your diet, get more sleep and manage stress better because you know the value of these health behaviors and how they can positively influence your running as well. Your running identity is very much intertwined with a strong desire for a healthy lifestyle.

Positive self-confidence also seems to be a benefit of having a strong running identity. You feel good about what you do in running and how good it makes you feel, both physically and mentally. As a result, you feel good about yourself and have a very positive self-concept. High levels of self-discipline are also developed through running. You gain the discipline needed to train consistently even during periods of low motivation. The self-discipline gained through running can also transfer to other areas of life such as nutrition, work behavior and stress management. You know who you are as both a runner and a person.

Having a strong running identity can also actually make you a better runner who consistently performs at a high level. Much of this is due to the enhanced self-discipline and motivation gained through running. You love to train hard and train consistently and, as a result, you tend to perform well when you compete. The higher levels of performance serve to further enhance your identity as a runner and improve self-confidence. A strong running identity may serve to enhance intrinsic motivation, which in turn serves to lead to a long term love for and adherence to running. In other words, you love what you do; therefore you do what you love: run!

As strange as it may sound there may be some negative aspects of a strong running identity. One idea that has been tossed around is that runners may not get involved in a wide array of other physical activities. While this may be true in some cases, many runners are also active in strength training, cycling, swimming, hiking and wide variety of team sports. While running can limit participation in other activities, it can also encourage it was well.

Possibly the biggest drawback associated with strong running identity is difficulty dealing with a running injury. Injuries happen in running and sometimes the injuries result in you not being able to run at all. This inability to run may result in feelings of depression, a loss of confidence and even feelings of anger. If your running is a major identity for you as a person, then not being able to run can mean a loss of self-worth and self-concept. For any runner with a strong running identity,  not being able to run because of an injury is simply no fun. Not running can mean a huge life void.

In theory, having a strong running identity could mean spending so much time in running and running related activities that you might not attend to other parts of your life. Does running mean missing work, not cleaning house, not socializing or neglecting family? Well, some runners might do those things, but it’s probably a very, very small percentage and who is to say that would neglect their other life roles even if they didn’t run. Running may mean better self-discipline to fulfill all the other roles you have in your life!

If you run, even if it’s just couple miles per week, you have at least some level of running identity. Running identity helps keep getting you out the door for your next run. Running, in a way, is a part of who you are. For a few runners a strong running identity can lead to some negative issues like difficulty relaxing when not able to run or over extended time commitments to running, but by in large,  a strong running identity is a very positive thing. In reality, when you identify with positive life style choice like running, you are really increasing your chances for more satisfying and long life. So get out there and go for a run and enjoy it! Why? Because you are a runner!

Richard Ferguson is Chair of the Physical Education, Wellness, and Sport Science Department at Averett University and is an AASP Certified Sport Psychology Consultant. He may be reached via e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Read more of Dr. Ferguson articles on - www.runohio.com

Bouncing Back - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1307-bouncing-back

More Positive Approach to Running -  http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1279-a-more-positive-approach-to-running  

 Pre-Race Sleep - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1250-pre-race-sleep

The Overtraining Conundrum - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1180-the-overtraining-conundrum

 Getting the MOST Out of Training - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1133-getting-the-most-out-of-training

 Winning is Personal -  http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1113-winning-is-personal

 Affirm Your Greatness!!! - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1086-affirm-your-greatness

What is Tired? - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1062-what-is-tired   

The Reason We Run - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/1027-the-reason-we-run

Some New Recruits - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/956-some-new-recruits?   

Are You a RUNNER? -  http://runohio.com/index.php/features/928-are-you-a-runner

A Different View -  http://runohio.com/index.php/features/892-a-different-view

The Components of Peak Performance - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/871--the-components-of-peak-performance

Running and Sleep -  http://runohio.com/index.php/features/845-running-and-sleep

Don’t Panic! -  http://runohio.com/index.php/features/824-dont-panic#:

The Mental Maximization of Training - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/773-the-mental-maximization-of-training

With the Help of a Friend -  http://runohio.com/index.php/features/723-with-the-help-of-a-friend

Beating the Winter Blues- http://runohio.com/index.php/features/718-beating-the-winter-blues

Go For It - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/702-go-for-it

Beating Burnout - http://runohio.com/index.php/features/658-beating-burnout

A New Outlook - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/611-a-new-outlook

Expect the Unexpected - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/560-expect-the-unexpected

Pain or Discomfort ? - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/529-pain-or-discomfort

Keep Your Eye on the Prize - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/512-keep-your-eye-on-the-prize

 Running Free - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/507-running-free

Running and Role Models - http://www.runohio.com/index.php/features/196-running-and-role-

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