An unedited preview of an article that will be posted on PolicyMic over the weekend (or won’t, pending editor’s possibly questionable literary taste).
Full disclosure. I am not a runner. And while all runners knows what they are at the core of their being—like Christ’s salvation or hearing Jimi Hendrix—we non-runners are diverse parts of a whole, like white light fractured through a prism. What follows is seven ascending steps. If you can say “no” to each of these, then you are a runner. How long it takes you to get to a “no” will establish where you are in our non-runner brotherhood, our society of plod.
1. You smoke
You are not a runner. Because lungs.
2. You are in your third trimester
Of course it’s still possible to shuffle your feet in a hasty forward direction, but you’re no longer a runner. Maybe you were a runner. Maybe you will be again one day. But you live in the all too real present, and sometimes that gift is a pair of goggles and a “stylish as it can be” maternity one-piece. A thousand paved kilometers may be crying out, but they’ll have to wait. Creating a life requires compromise.
3. You don’t know how far a “K” is.
Of course you know there are 1.60934 kilometers in one mile, but regurgitating 2nd grade metric conversions that no one has forgotten doesn’t mean your feet have ran what your brain has remembered. You don’t know what it smells like inside The Sistine Chapel. Run a 5K obstacle course. If you reach the one-mile marker and say to yourself, “Sweet Steve Prefontaine! That can’t only be a mile,” then you don’t know how far a “K” is, and you are not a runner.
4. You don’t own “running” shoes.
You may own a solid pair of Asics. Maybe you even splurged for a reliable pair of New Balance 990’s. But if you’re wearing those shoes with pre-washed Levi’s and a Van Heusen Micro Smooth at your local tap room, then those are your sneakers or your “tennies.” A runner has shoes dedicated purely to their craft. “Multi-purpose” is just a synonym for mediocrity.
5. You “go for a jog”
Runners run. Joggers jog. Runners never say, “I’m going for a jog.”
6. You actually care how much you bench press.
Classic tell. Imagine a man asking, “How much do you bench?” Now imagine a man answering that question with pride. Does either man look like a Kenyan marathoner? Nope. A runner cares about his health. He (or she, whatever) is constantly attuned to the cardiovascular engine that sends out ripples of nirvana from heart to body to soul. They’re Zen. They’re pacifists. They love their bodies without clinging to an arbitrary standard of strength.
7. You have situational running posture
This is the final litmus test. You’ve been running for months. So much running. You’ve even considered adding Chariots of Fire to your favorite movies on your Facebook profile. You walk out your front door with an unseen smirk at the thought of jogging (HAHAHA! You remember your first beer!). Your Adistar Boosts feel like a second, supportive-yet-malleable skin on your well-trodden heels. Baby’s in bed and your ready to pound all 10 of those crying kilometers. You run. You tire, but you don’t realize it. You feel good. You’re mind is buzzing on a runner’s high and a Hearts on Fire loop in your earbuds. What’s that up ahead in your path? It’s a beautiful woman (or man, whatever). You lift your shoulders back and stick your chest out. Had you been hunched over the whole time? You pick up your pace and cross paths with the angel of fitness that you’ll never talk to. The moment is passed, and you’re running as you were before. Wait. No. No, you’re not. You’re jogging. Just as you were before.