That being said, there are a few universal rites of passage every runner will face at some point along the way. How many of these milestones have you overcome? If you've survived one—or all—of these, you can officially, definitely, without question, call yourself a runner.
1. You've lost a toenail.2 of 9
Yes. Losing toenails is so common to runners it's often seen on race signs that read, "Toenails are Overrated." Are they? I miss mine.
Losing a toenail (or multiple toenails) usually happens when you start running fairly high mileage and/or have shoes that are slightly too small. But even if you wear the perfect shoe in the perfect size and build up mileage slowly, it can still happen. If and when it does, just put it under your pillow and the Toenail Fairy will leave you an invisible dollar.
2. You've fallen.3 of 9
Most runners have an embarrassing story about falling during a run, and if you don't, it's only a matter of time before you somehow find yourself running along one second and plummeting to the ground the next. Hopefully, you won't get too hurt and it won't be too embarrassing, but at least you'll have a good story to tell.
3. You've blown a snot rocket (as an adult).4 of 9
Runners' noses like to run when they do—especially in the winter. This causes a problem that only a tissue, long sleeve or snot rocket can solve. What's an efficient runner to do?
But, there's a good chance you've done it at least once. Or you've tried and failed in a booger-y mess. It's not sexy, but no one ever said running was sexy in the first place, right?
4. You've used a near-inoperable porta-potty before a race.5 of 9
Most people try to avoid porta-potties at all costs. However, runners see them as a lighthouse calling to them from the dark ocean that is sloshing around in their bladder.
Well, if you can't handle that, you probably can't handle visiting a porta-potty after 986 other nervous-stomached runners. Good luck on race day!
5. You've got weird tan lines--year-round.6 of 9
From sunglasses that leave you with reverse raccoon eyes to permanent lines across your thighs from long runs in your favorite running shorts, weird tan lines happen. The more you run, the more comfortable you get with those tan lines living on your body.
So choose your running gear wisely—especially if you have an event coming up where you'd prefer not to look like you fell asleep in the sun with a blindfold on.
6. You use running jargon in everyday conversation.7 of 9
Fuel belt. Long run. Foam roller. Gu. Negative splits. Bib. Point to point course. Fartlek.
You know you're dedicated to running when you talk about what you're doing this weekend and it all revolves around training. Most of the time you won't realize you're doing it until someone gives you a puzzled look and you suddenly find yourself describing small foil packets of a jelly-like substance you squeeze into your mouth while running. As if that makes sense to any non-runners.
7. You can draw an accurate map of your entire neighborhood.8 of 9
When you've been running in one area for a while, you get to know exactly where 3 miles from your house is in at least three different directions. You'll eventually know where the 1 mile mark is, the best water fountain, the lady who walks her wiener dog (and at what time), where to turn around for a 7 mile run—you get the jist. You will know your local sidewalks better than the back of your hand. This is your playground, and you're memorizing it day after day, even when you think you're just listening to music or contemplating life.
8. You've skipped "fun" to run.9 of 9
Whatever the reason may be that you initially started running, you probably didn't think you'd eventually skip happy hour or pizza night with your friends to run instead. Once you get addicted to the endorphins, you start to see running as more fun than your old hobbies. It starts slowly. First, you call it an early night so you can get up to run in the morning, and the next thing you know you're planning your vacation around a half marathon. The good thing is you're not really skipping fun to run. All runners know that running is fun and you're enjoying every minute of it! (Plus, you can always order pizza when you get back.)