For years my husband has subscribed to, or purchased Runner’s World Magazine

As a result, we have had trim, scantily clad (in workout gear of course) individuals gracing our counter-tops and coffee tables most months.

Despite its constant presence, I have rarely opened the magazine. My lack of interest comes from the fact that I do not consider myself a runner, therefore, a magazine written for runners, about running doesn’t seem to apply to me.

Notwithstanding self perception, I am someone who runs.

I am going to run a 1/2 marathon in two weeks. I am confident I can handle the distance and have been training for many weeks with a group of runners organized by our local running store.

Recently, I have had to seek the assistance of professionals (ok, so I asked my dog’s Vet, my Dentist and the folks at the running store) to address intense knee pain that has been creeping in around mile 6 of my long runs. Rumor has it we have these IT bands that run the length of our legs and without proper stretching, icing and with excessive use, we can cause pain and injury… I know, I know. You people have known about these “IT bands” forever, and are shocked that someone like me could be so unaware.

But only with this injury have I started to consider the following: I am not just someone who runs, maybe I am a runner. With a running injury.

So now what?

Two weeks away from my event, I do not plan to reduce miles, or pack my shoes back in the corner of my closet next to my kick board and goggles (yes, I used to be a swimmer). Rather, I am going to address the issue as a professional. I am going to take time to stretch, ice, use bands on my legs, get help – do it right. I plan to take care of myself.

Maybe that is really the difference between a casual participant, and a serious one: The difference between someone who runs, and a runner; Someone who swims, and a swimmer; Some who fishes, and someone who is a fisherman; Someone who hikes, etc. You get my point.

Not skill.

Not speed.

Not that the activity is done for money.

And certainly the litmus test is not based on PRs, miles, number of fish, etc.

The difference is thoughtfulness, being purposeful.

And that is why they write magazines, books and have tv shows about these things.

So now that I am stretching, icing, being considerate of my body as I train the next two weeks, I feel like a real runner. I might even go home and read an article or two on preventing injuries, or making your first 1/2 a great experience.  At least I have a year or two of magazines to pick from written by runners, for runners, like me.