Have you ever wondered if it’s safe to call yourself an "official" runner? Is there a time period you must serve first, a milestone to achieve or a specific time to beat that is the turning point at which you can confidently say " I am a runner?"
I'm still wondering when that is....
When you spent your school days forging notes from you Mum to excuse you from athletics, I mean I seriously hated athletics... totally rubbish at it! Javelin, discus, jumping of any kind, sprinting (what a joke) or long distance.... it just wasn't me. I was at the back of the group with the asthma kids or the boy who had forgotten his trainers... I didn't see the point! It wasn't going to help me get my GCSEs, or achieve my dream career (which, by the way, had nothing to do with fitness at that time) or secure a place at the Olympics.
I was so pleased when I didn't get picked for sports day.... that meant an afternoon lolling on the grass banking paying very little attention to the sports day activities. My husband, as complete contrast tells me he would have been gutted if he hadn't been picked for sports day.
Fast forward a few years, and my fitness bug started with aerobics and step aerobics, later followed by Zumba and boxercise....and then I had children.
Making it to classes was difficult with a busy job and children, so Sam and I signed up to the Moonwalk half marathon. Don't get too excited just yet, this was a power walking challenge, through London, at night, in an ornately decorated bra... in aid of breast cancer. We loved it, and two years later we secured our places, with our middle sister, and two friends to complete the full marathon.
Would I have called myself an athlete or even a proper power walker back then? Nope. But that was a seriously tough challenge, and we did it.... without arguing too... bonus.
So, from my power walking training, I thought I would download couch25k app and see if, for the first time in my life, I could run.
Turns out I can... not particularly fast, but I have endurance and stamina, and can tackle the odd hill.
I think I've been a member of my running club, and participating in races since 2014, and running a 5k regularly since 2010.
Entering the Great North Run 4 years ago was a seriously nerve-wracking thing to do... the furthest I'd ran was 10k and progressing to a half marathon just seemed huge. Done a 10k? Great, now do it all over again for a half.... whoa! As training approached the 10-mile marker, my running bestie and I celebrated, we were elated.
We've since ran GNR each year, and unbelievably, the weather has always been hot up in the North East!
Last year we completed the Liverpool Rock N Roll marathon on scorching conditions. It was in the middle of the glorious heatwave last summer.... just not ideal conditions for a marathon.
And guess what? I'm mad enough to do another one... this time an Autumnal marathon in Chester.
But ask me what I do to keep fit and I say " I go running"... I never say I am a runner... I don't feel have the qualifications to say that.
I have the qualifications to say that... but realistically what more can I expect of myself to say I am a runner.
If I was talking about a friend who was running on a regular basis, a couple of times a week, or doing park run, or couch25k, I would be chatting about her saying, She's doing really well, she's a proper runner now, she loves it, she's making fantastic progress. I would be recognising that even the newest beginner, out for a gentle jog, or a run walk session on an app, IS A RUNNER.
I am proud of my achievements (my Mum is amazed, and probably my old PE teacher will be astounded) so perhaps it’s time to admit, that yes, I, Vicky Powell-Carden, am a runner.