Milestones Every Serious Runner Should Reach (Or so They Say)

After reading an article on Active titled 13 Milestones Every Serious Runner Should Reach I started to think about it. For those of you that don’t want to read the article, I’ll break down the thirteen steps.

  1.  Finish your first 5k
  2. A double-digit run
  3. Your very first gel
  4. Your first black toenail
  5. Completing your first half marathon
  6. The sub-2 hour half marathon
  7. Your sub-7 minute mile
  8. Your first run in bad weather
  9. Hitting 40 miles in a week
  10. Your first 20 mile run
  11. Your first race bonk
  12. Crossing the finish line of a marathon
  13. A BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying time)

I’ve done all but the last one, earn a BQ. My one and only marathon was a disaster and by no means was I anywhere close to a BQ. I also had no desire since then to run another marathon. My body just isn’t made to run marathons, nor do I have the time nor am I willing to make the time to train for a marathon.

Does it make you any less of a runner if you don’t run a marathon or even a half marathon? What if you run for an hour five days a week faithfully for years but never enter into any races- are you not a serious runner?

What does “serious” runner mean anyway? Apparently to the author who made up the above list, a serious runner is only one who runs marathons and runs them fast at that. Or do you have to only complete some of these from the list to qualify as a “serious” runner? Maybe if you’ve done most of them, you’re a serious runner. But then that would mean the slower runners wouldn’t be serious. I’ll bet if you ask anyone who has run a few marathons but hasn’t finished even close to a BQ, they would tell you they’re a serious runner for sure!

I guess I consider myself a serious runner. Running is a big part of my life and like I said, while I’ve only ever ran one marathon, I run a few half marathons a year and am approaching my 43rd half marathon. When I was training for my marathon, I ran 40 miles in a week, ran 20 miles in a training run, and bonked because of the extreme heat at the marathon, but I did still manage to cross the finish line. Now that I train for half marathons, I don’t or won’t ever do the last five items in the list. I don’t think that makes me any less of a serious runner.

Long Beach Marathon
My one and only marathon, the Long Beach Marathon

Many of these items on the list are possible “one and done” kind of things. Does simply completing a 5k, half marathon, and marathon (which means by default all but numbers 6, 7 and 13 would likely also happen and quite possibly number 3 as well) make you a serious runner? Does that mean once you’re a serious runner and you can tick off the majority of items from the list, you’re always a serious runner? Or does that status go away if you’re not running half marathons and marathons and qualifying for Boston?

I know I’ve asked a lot of questions and haven’t answered many of them. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what my list would be for a “serious” runner. I think it varies for everyone. Some people are never going to run sub-7 minute miles and that’s just a fact. I don’t think that makes you any less of a serious runner because of that. Likewise, many people are never going to run a sub-2 hour half marathon and even more are never going to run a BQ marathon.

I think if you just finish a marathon, you’re a serious runner (assuming you’re not walking the entire race of course). It takes huge amounts of effort and time to just train for a marathon and anyone who doesn’t agree has never trained for a marathon. Also training for a half marathon takes huge amounts of time and energy.

So no, I don’t agree that every runner “should” reach these milestones to be considered a serious runner. I agree that these are indeed milestones that some runners reach over the span of their running careers, but I don’t agree every runner needs to do these things. I think to say that somehow makes the efforts of people who are out there running, doing the best they can, but not running 6 minute miles or going out for 20 mile runs seem less worthwhile than runners going faster or further. It says what they’re doing isn’t good enough. I’ve always said, you’re racing against yourself and that’s all that matters. I use the term “racing” loosely too, meaning, training runs, during a race, or even just out by yourself for a run with no race in sight.

However, I can go the other direction, too, and agree that most people wouldn’t call someone who goes out and runs for a mile or two at a light and easy pace a “serious” runner. So I guess you might say “serious” to me at least implies someone who goes a bit above and beyond the everyday runner. Still, I don’t want to demean someone who goes out for short easy runs and never runs a race. Just because you’re not a serious runner doesn’t make you any less of a runner. Certainly not everyone should be or in some cases is able to be a serious runner.

Milestones should be very personal for each runner. A milestone for one person may not be a milestone for another. So I ask you all:  what are some of your running milestones?

 

 

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Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

14 thoughts on “Milestones Every Serious Runner Should Reach (Or so They Say)”

  1. Here are my thoughts:
    1. I consider myself a “serious runner” because I set running goals and then train diligently for them. Period.
    2. I’m blessed to be strong and fit enough, and to have run enough, to experience all 13 items in the list. But I don’t consider any of them mandatory to be a “serious runner”.
    3. I don’t consider Active.com a serious reference for runners. IMO most of their articles are fluff and/or click bait. I get much more value out of Runner’s World or Trail Runner, especially anything written by David Roche.
    4. I’d call you a serious runner.

    Jeff

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh. Silly lists. I will never do a sub-7 minute mile. Personally, I think a “serious” runner is one who just simply loves the sport and works hard to achieve their own personal goals. This is a great topic to bring forward Donna! Thanks! 😀 (more “things that make you go hmmmm… lol)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Paula. I thought the list was interesting because to me, this is a very personal thing; not just some blanket statement you can make about runners. I agree, if you work hard to achieve your own personal goals, then that means you’re serious about running.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, I haven’t done half of those and don’t think I can. But I’ve run 29 half marathons and 1 full and would like to think that makes me a serious runner. Even though saying that is hard because my weekly mileage sucks right now and I’m struggling to just get it back to 20.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My milestone is the fact I do actually run. Sounds odd but I had always wanted to be a long distance runner – growing up I was a footballer so short distances were my forte! Now I’ve been running for just over a year and half; completed my first 5k/10k and several mud runs! Onto 20k then the London Marathon next year 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was able to run, I ran because I enjoyed running. That was enough. My most enjoyable race, a marathon, happened to clock my slowest time per mile in a race ever — but it was still my most enjoyable for the experiences that day.
    If necessary, however, one only has to look at that map to know you are a serious runner.

    Liked by 1 person

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