I recently declared my friend John to be a proper runner. He was intrigued and asked me about it.
"So when did I become a proper runner then?"
My reply was simple: "it was when you said you kept thinking about running and when you could run non stop for half an hour".
While those are off-the-cuff remarks, I do stand by them. I remember myself when I had got bitten by the running bug and all I could think about was running. Where I would next run, when, how far? You start dreaming up new routes, start thinking about entering races or events. You start thinking about pushing yourself a little further, thinking about taking in a few hills sometime.
It goes further with thoughts of making sure you have the right running gear, starting to work out what your pace is and how does that compare with others? So how do you find out about others? I once remember spotting a runner on the other side of the road and I matched my pace for a while and I reckoned he was a seasoned runner, so things were looking hopeful for me.
The next step is maybe buying the odd copy of Runner's World or starting to surf around for some blogs (hey like mine!). You might even join a running club, or an on-line forum as well, of course, as entering a race.
In terms of actually getting out there and running, I'd say that for anyone who starts from scratch and builds their fitness to run for 30 minutes non stop, they can justifiably say they are a runner. There's no magic number, but something around that would be a fair definition. And how far do you run in 30 minutes? I'd say around 3 miles or 5k is a fair pace for a new runner, give or take a bit.
All this could go on for ages, building up the picture of a proper runner. Suffice to say, whether my friend John likes it or not, he's a proper runner.