I have been reading some posts and blogs and received some interesting e-mails recently on the matter of what is a "real runner". Interesting. In my mind, a "real runner" is someone who runs, whether it be a 15 minute mile, a 4 minute mile, races to air out some competitive angst or runs to relieve stress after a hard day of work. Most adults I know who run in the Gym, come into the store, etc. have busy lives and simply love to run because it provides them with an escape from the insanity and stress of their real lives. They use running as a means of coping with our urban/borderline non-human office like lifestyle culture we have created for ourselves. Why do you think people want buy houses in the country to escape. Running falls into the same category of escapism. Escape to freedom or such.
As for why some people are fast, etc. 90% of its genetic. In that respect, its simple. Running is no different than any sport in that regard. When I played soccer and basketball I was always put in the position that required lots of running and endurance. Point guard or center mid-field, etc. I was good at these positions because I just was. I have good hand eye coordination that is just natural. I think the same applies to running. I do not have to run a great deal to just do it ok. I know some guys who run 65-70 miles a week to run a 16 minute 5k. That seems like too much work for such a feat. If doing that makes you a "real runner", I would say the criteria for "real runner" should be re-evaluated. Perhaps running to that extent for such an achievement is more a sign of being a "compulsive/driven runner" rather than a "real runner". In any case, that is a subject for another post. I will say that too much of the darn sport combined with simply getting older has broken me down a bit and in retrospect, I can say that I got carried away with it a bit over the years. None the less, I still find running and overall fitness, a nice complement to my life.
With all of that said, all runners can improve to meet their own goals and objectives, no matter what they might be.
Personally, I have more admiration for the weekend runner dad or mom who makes it out and runs a 60 minute 10K and nearly collapses in exhaustion with their kids watching from the sideline. These are my heroes simply because the effort and sacrifice made to make such an effort is more so than those of us who are single and have time to dwell on our running/personal lives, etc. to such an extent.
The aforementioned mom/dad non-competitive elite runner population is also the one that makes up the majority of the "real running" population in the DC area.
For every speedster who was blessed with quick wheels like Jake, etc. there are 50 other "real runners" out there just moping along trying to stay fit and and make running a positive compliment to their stressful lives.
For all of you guys/gals in your 20s who run like the wind, your 20s will go and other matters take over and then eventually, you might end up like one of those 60 minute 10k moms or dads.
In your 20s its hard to see that your body and such will change. It will though. I can remember 26/27/28, etc. like it was yesterday and now I am 38. I tried in vain to make time stop but it would not. Things are really no better or worse but simply different. Once gains perspective.
Time flies when you run and are having fun.