What time makes a proper runner a runner

In response to a BBC website article

1 to 20 of 64 messages
03/09/2012 at 18:08

I have just read an article on the BBCwebsite with regards to Paul Ryan, a US Vice Presidential candidate - so what's it got to do with running you ask.

Well not much and a lot depending on what side of the 4hr marathon barrier you currently sit.

This is an very abbreviated version

Quizzed by radio host Hugh Hewitt on his marathon personal best (PB), Ryan replied: "Under three, I think, you know, high twos... a two hour and fifty-something."

But it transpires that Ryan only ran 4:01:25 in a race in 1990.

This is not the reason for the thread this is -

David Castle, editor of Running Fitness magazine with a marathon PB of 2:53:47, concurs.

"Marathon runners are very protective of their PB. Anyone running under three hours will have put in a fair amount of training. Model Nell McAndrew [who reduced her personal best by 14 minutes to clock 2:54 in this year's London Marathon] is virtually training like a professional athlete.

"You will certainly be doing up to 40 or 50 miles a week, running five times a week."

Each time barrier is hugely significant. A sub 1:30 half marathon or a sub-40 10k is hugely important for amateur runners. You can tell by the way runners so often refer to seconds, even in a PB for a long race.

If your half marathon personal best is 1:39:38, you never round to 1:40. You tore yourself apart for those 22 seconds. Those were the 22 seconds that nearly broke you.

"When we talk about runners becoming proper runners, [it might be] under 3:30 [for a marathon]," suggests Castle.

But there is always the temptation caused by "bravado", Castle says.

"Who wants to say they ran four hours? It's an OK time but not a runner's time.

So despite all that is said about running, according to Mr David Castle you are not a runner unless you can run under 4hrs for a marathon!! That puts me back to jogging then as my time of 4:1:29 at 57 is not a runners time.

Taken from the article - There is no shame in 4:01:25. Even a four-hour marathon is a gruelling, extraordinary feat. Most people's marathon PB is: "I'm yet to run a marathon."

Thankfully I only subscribe to Runners World otherwise I would cancel my subscription if I had one to Running Fitness!!!!!!


cougie    pirate
03/09/2012 at 18:25

He's entitled to his opinion surely ?

03/09/2012 at 19:00

As the editor of a running magazine derisive comments are not within his purview. He should be completely neutral and avoid offending aspiring runners who work week in week out to achieve their PBs - no matter what the time is. I have seen numerous comments on the marathon threads telling people that everyone who runs is a runner so comments like that are completely inappropriate given that we are striving to encourage more not fewer people into the sport and not make it elitist. The Olympics said 'inspire a generation', where is the inspiration in comments like that.


Cheerful Dave    pirate
03/09/2012 at 19:01
I imagine he was asked that particular question, which in reality has no right or wrong answer, but he felt he had to say something. If he'd said "about 4:10" you'd have been happy?

Given this was an article written by a journalist, he probably gave the answer "3:30" to a different question entirely.
Cheerful Dave    pirate
03/09/2012 at 19:04
What's more interesting is that Paul Ryan lied about his marathon PB. Even for a politician, that's pretty low.
03/09/2012 at 19:35

Going on that I'm not a proper runner, as I've never ran a 1:30 half (PB 1:43:51) a sub 40 10km (PB 47:09) or a 3:30 marathon (PB 3:49:38). I'll remember I'm not a "proper" runner when I run my 9th marathon next month.

03/09/2012 at 19:48

Article sounds fine to me, and I don't meet any of his criteria. 
A friend did three marathons last weekend, and another this weekend in a time of 3:32. He's 62.
He's a proper runner. I'm not. 

Edited: 03/09/2012 at 19:51
03/09/2012 at 19:58

Having seen first hand how the news can be manipulated I agree and as an editor he should be aware of that too. I would have been happy if he had said that completing a marathon for anyone is an achievement Oscar Pistorius's mum said “The real loser is never the person who crosses the finishing line last,”  “The real loser is the person who sits on the side. The person who does not even try to compete.”

Unfortunately even if it was an answer to a different question it is the answer that is read.

As for Ryan - every comment is scrutinised and checked for accuracy in America and more so if you are the next possible Vice President.

03/09/2012 at 20:02

Strikes me that Paul Ryan is a bloody liability, even for a Republican vice presidential candidate.

Everyone has an opinion on what constitutes a 'proper runner' whether that is a sub 3hr marathon or completing a 5k race for life without walking.  But that is not the point.  The point is that Paul Ryan lied about his pb in order to impress.  He knew that for a twenty year old to run a 4hr marathon, whilst it takes some training, is not really impressive.

So he lied.

03/09/2012 at 21:00

Dolly, I'm completely with you on this. I just read the BBC article and was very disappointed by David Castle's comment ("Who wants to say they ran four hours? It's an OK time but not a runner's time").

I have only ever run one marathon - in 4.04 - I was 12 at the time (in 1981). I won't ever 'forget' my time either!

I run half marathons these days and my pb is 'only' 1.41. I guess that as this, broadly (depending on which converter you use), equates to a 3.33 marathon I still cannot call myself a runner as 3.30 is apparently the yardstick. Anyway, I felt more of a runner at 12 with my 4.04 than I do now - that will always be my greatest running achievement.

Anyone who can complete a race of any distance should proudly call themself a runner. We all have different natural abilities, pressures, free time etc so one person's 5.30 is equal to another person's 2.30 in my humble opinion. David is entitled to his opinion as well, I accept that (and maybe they put him on the spot). However, he is also a spokesman for the average runner. Very disappointing and I hope he takes the opportunity to clarify his comments in the next issue.

03/09/2012 at 21:03
For me it's always about 10 mins more than my current PB.
03/09/2012 at 21:09
Keef55 - 12??
03/09/2012 at 21:16

Yeah...  12??

03/09/2012 at 21:16
Dollyg wrote (see)

 Model Nell McAndrew [who reduced her personal best by 14 minutes to clock 2:54 in this year's London Marathon] is virtually training like a professional athlete.

"You will certainly be doing up to 40 or 50 miles a week, running five times a week."

Surely he;s not trying to equate those 2 sentences?

I massively doubt McAndrew does anywhere near a professional athlete.

03/09/2012 at 21:28

I've never heard of David Castle but he's clearly very good at talking bollocks.  Maybe he should stand as a Republican nominee.

03/09/2012 at 21:35

I wonder if he's related to the guy at the end of a 10k I did once, where upon finishing 7th, but not running in a club vest, I was told that the 6 ahead of me (in club vests) were "PROPER" runners.

I should have asked him if the guy who came last, 450th, was also a proper runner, as he was sporting a rather dandy club vest too.

Edited: 03/09/2012 at 21:35
03/09/2012 at 21:54

Yes, 12 (or 13, he says, sounding a bit like the chap who started all this by exaggerating his time!). It was the Masters and Maidens marathon in Guildford. I did the 15-mile warm up race as well and the winner gave me his trophy which was a really nice gesture.

You could do it then as the age restriction wasn't in place I guess. No one seemed bothered by me racing anyway (I was running with my father). I wasn't the only one who did it at that age either (there's another thread on here about it).

I don't recommend it though. I didn't run for another 30 years after that !

03/09/2012 at 22:17

I'll give what I think is the simplest and most profound definition of what a proper runner is:

"Someone who tries to run the same distance quicker than they did before, all else being equal"

Everything else is just a variable. For example, my last mara, I ran in 2h54 on the back of 1500kms training in a 4 month period.. My next mara, I hope to get in around 3h30. On the back of maybe 250kms of training in 4 months. Which one most ideally represents the best effort? Which one is most likely to indicate I have got what it takes to be a runner?

03/09/2012 at 22:21

If a complete stranger has ever taken a picture of you with both feet off the ground, preferably in brightly coloured footwear, and then plastered it all over the internet for other strangers to look at, I'd say you're a proper runner.

Actually, scrap that.  If David Castle asked me for my definition of a proper runner I'd say ''Anyone who has run a marathon under 2:45''.  Then I'd say ''Nerr''.

03/09/2012 at 22:27

That's it then...I'm a jogger...!

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