My mind goes to some weird and wonderful places when I run and questioning what other runners think of me when they pass by me is just one them. I used to have what I call, a runner’s complex. This is something I use to describe that feeling when you think that you can’t be ‘a runner’, when you feel uncomfortable running on the street or in the park, like you don’t belong there. Its one thing thinking it but is a runner’s complex stopping you from running?

For years I wanted to start running because I wanted to be able to call myself a runner. It sounded cool. I imagined a long lean version of myself pounding the pavement as the sun came up. In reality, I used to feel like I couldn’t because I would be doing it wrong, that people would stare or that I just wasn’t capable. Until one day I decided I wasn’t going to let it stop me from trying. But it doesn’t make the thoughts stop. So I wanted to share three things I’m pretty sure every Fit Girl has thought about and why it shouldn’t stop you from running.

Can I really call myself a runner?

Maybe you think that because you don’t run fast or you only run occasionally, as and when you feel like it, that you’re not ‘a real runner’. In my opinion, if you’ve laced up your trainers once to pound the pavement, even if it was only for two minutes before you had to walk, then yes; you are runner. It takes time to build up a minimum fitness level, it took me at least 4 months before I could run 5km in under 30 minutes without stopping, but everyone is capable. It’s one of the most basic and primal forms of exercise, there’s no exclusive membership and no one is going to stop you mid run to tell you that you’re not allowed to do it.  It takes a certain amount of confidence to gear up in your house to step outside and just run. At least it did for me. So the first time you do it, congratulations, you are a runner.

Do I look like a runner?

Next comes the self consciousness of wondering what you look like when you run. I think it’s because of where I grew up, I knew every single person in the really small town, so I would be too embarrassed to be seen on the street running. But we all glance at ourselves as we pass by a shop window or see passengers in cars looking at us and think, do I look funny running? Maybe you look like a gazelle elegantly striding from lamppost to lamppost or you are more like me and look like a baby rhino trying to keep up with the herd, it doesn’t matter. What I love so much about running is that everyone has their own style. Remember that scene from friends where Pheobe looks kind of crazy when she’s running and Rachel is embarrassed? No? Here’s a reminder.

Rachel might be embarrassed but Pheobe feels good doing it, so screw it who cares. The more times you go out and see others running the more you realize that ever the  R If you see someone that does a funny kick out or swings their arms like crazy leave ‘em be, they’re rocking that run and doing it for themselves anyway!

Am I creepy acknowledging other runners?

Are you someone who makes eye contact with other runners and gives them a discreet smile, do you avoid them and stare straight ahead running taller or do you awkwardly glance at your feet and think, “I wish they knew I’ve been running for forty minutes and that’s why I look like I am going to pass out.” If you’ve tallied up a few miles on the clock you will have done all three at one time or another. There is no runner’s etiquette. The chances are the person running towards you also thought about this for a couple of seconds as you approached other. I like to give some kind of acknowledgement if I sense the other person is the type too. Seeing other people running makes me feel proud and motivates me. I feel like we’re all in it together. Cue: my internal monologue. “I’m badass because I’m out running and you’re out here running so that makes you badass too and I want to acknowledge that. Man, aren’t we awesome? Go us!” Even when I’m my most tired, when I pass another runner I find a little bit more strength to go faster and push harder.

If you really want to start running but feel like you don’t know what your doing, read our tips here and don’t worry about it once you’re out there, just run. And remember, even if someone sees you you walking or taking a rest, you came out a runner. Own it. And you shouldn’t worry about what is going on in someone else’s head, it’s none of your business anyway 😉

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