I needed new running shoes. Up till this point, I had been relying on a pair of clearance Nike’s I scored at the grocery store. Those Nike’s were fine for a couple of miles a day, a few times a week. But when I started averaging 4 miles a day 6 days a week my feet told me I needed something better.
I didn’t want to just casually buy new shoes. I wanted them to be sold to me. I wanted the salesperson to measure my feet. Ask me about my running habits and provide me with an option that would help me run on the front of my feet while accommodating the bunion on my left foot.
I’ve never signed up for a race. But if I had I would have been cheered on by the medics as they placed an oxygen mask on my face at the end of a 5k. I’m 6’4″ and at the time I was around 240 pounds. I didn’t look like a “runner”. So I was nervous entering the store because on the other side of those glass doors the label of “runner” would be soon applied to me.
I explained that I only ran casually. I did it just for the activity I had no races to train for. And as usual, I made it clear that at least 40 percent of my daily four miles were actually spent walking.
I’m guessing that in an effort to show the kindness of the running community. The salesman said, “anyone who runs is a runner”. In the broadest definition of the word, he’s definitely not wrong, but they bothered me
It’s been 7 months and the shoes I bought that day wore out a while ago. I’m at a place where I could complete a 5k in a respectable amount of time. Even if my current shoes crossed the finish line of an actual race I still wouldn’t slap an “I’m A Runner” bumper sticker on the back of my car.
I know that amongst all the labels society uses to categorize people “runner” is pretty innocuous. But even innocuous labels come with stereotypes and expectations – A banal box is still a box. Separating one group from everyone else.
I just don’t want to deal with it anymore. So from this moment on, I’ll just be Wyatt. A guy who: takes pictures for a living, bakes cookies for his friends, runs for the heck of it and goes to an LDS church on Sunday… And you, you can do whatever the hell you want.