Unabashedly, I consider myself a runner. But it would be easy enough to substitute cyclist, or swimmer, or something else active in the post that follows. If you’re not a runner, feel free to do so! 🙂
Yes, you are an inspiration!
I have a lot of my friends on Dailymile. They come in all sizes, shapes and speeds. Some inspire me with their high mileage (like Jonathan S) or incredible pace (like Susan). I am uplifted by other friends who may not run far or fast, but have faced daunting obstacles and remain runners (like Holly T). If you are one of these groups, I thank you for the motivation and inspiration you provide. You should be proud of what you are accomplishing.
But, if you are among the aforementioned, this post is not about – or dedicated to – you. This post is for the significant percentage who aren’t aware of the inspiration that they have become for me. They are sometimes missed by the Dailymile population at large, since they don’t log long miles, record amazing race times, overcome impossible odds, or carry run streaks that are three and four digits long. For some reason the members of the group I am referring to think what they are achieving is small and unimportant. Just getting out the door every day might be the toughest struggle they face. They don’t always overcome every obstacle; often life gets in the way of their running; their motivation is sometimes weak or non-existent, and inspiration hard to find.
But they don’t quit. They miss a day, or two, or a week… but they keep coming back. Many of them eventually move on to become “hardcore”; they start logging the big miles, adding days and months to streaks. Not all, though. Whether you make that transition or not, you should be proud that you call yourself a runner.
Running, as recreation or exercise, at any speed, anywhere, and under any conditions, is a challenge that you should not underestimate, with rewards you should not undervalue. Despite the “popularity” of running, the running population is still a small percentage of the total. Statistics are hard to come by, and vary from community to community. (In Boulder, Colorado it is the oddball that doesn’t run.) You might think that 50% of the population had run a marathon, based on the talk, the number of new races, and the large crowds. But, according to MarathonGuide.com, less than 2/10 of 1% of the US population recorded a finishing time in the marathon in 2010. If you consider that many of them were people who completed more than one, the number is far less. Stats for shorter races are even harder to find, but I suspect that less than 1% of the people in this country would call themselves runners.
The remaining 99% are becoming obese at an alarming rate. HealthyAmericans.org says in the last 30 years that adult obesity has doubled from 15% of the population, to 30%. Child obesity has tripled. If you are among those fighting this disastrous trend, then you should give yourself a pat on the back.
And I want you to know that you do inspire others, even if you don’t realize it. That 1.5 miles you log tomorrow has value. Those four days you ran last week are important. Keep doing what you do; dragging yourself out the door, feeling guilty when you miss… coming back and starting over. This post is dedicated to you.