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The Piece of Gear That Made Me a Real Runner

If you scroll through social media you will be bombarded with the newest running gear, clothes, shoes and everything in between. Even though I love all of my high tech shoes, gadgets and clothes there is one piece I own that will forever be my favorite and the thing that made me a runner......

My famous white tank top.....and by famous I mean the one top that no one even knows exists or cares about but famous to me.

This shirt was $5, doesn’t do anything for my "look" and isn’t made of high tech material. I got it at Walmart the day before my very first 5k because I didn’t want any of my other clothes ruined by the chalk that is thrown at you at a color run. For those that haven’t run one it mostly comes off afterward but still don’t wear anything that you don’t want stained just in case. Mind you now I'm not as up tight about anything happening to my running stuff since it's all part of the journey but I was young, new and figured *LOGIC* was winning LOL....Ohhhhh young Shelby.....

I figured a white tank top with chalk all over would be a fun keepsake for the only race I’d ever do (I laugh every time I think of this....especially when I can’t wait to do a marathon and am contemplating an ultra AND an Iron Man on day). The paint has long since washed out, the tank is stretched out and smells it's age but the memories and the feelings are all there like it was yesterday.

I remember being so nervous, feeling like a fraud and praying I would just finish the race. I wouldn’t have thought then that a 5k would one day be a normal run for me, that I’d be a running coach or that I’d being doing any of this. Funny how life works, right?

We all often say that the gear doesn’t make the runner. This sentiment is true—-you do NOT need fancy gear, shoes, clothes or accessories to be a runner. But I do have my few items, like my white shirt, that I feel thrust me into finally believing I was a real runner.

"Very little has to do with the actual gear but it serves as a beacon of turning points in our minds."
~Shelby Schmidt

To me being a real runner isn’t an actual tangible thing that happens. It’s a state of mind that you reach one day when YOU allow yourself to use that title. No one can give it to you, no one can take it from you, and no one can tell you when you achieve it. Sure, we all try to convince runners they are real runners no matter what (because it’s the truth) but do any new runners really trust complete strangers on Instagram?

After feeling a bit down this past week and just needed a boost of morale so as I was digging through my drawer getting ready to go I saw the balled up tank and decided to throw it on. I laughed at the irony that the first time I put on the tank top I was so unsure of my ability, my runs, and what I was capable of. Here I am putting it on again feeling similar in spite of what I’ve accomplished. Seemed only fitting to throw it on and reminisce. I jogged along a scootering toddler and enjoy the sun, sweat and let myself relax.

Shout out to my kid for being the ultimate insta-husband with the picture taking 🤣

Think back to when you started running—-when did you let yourself accept that you were a real runner? When you hit a certain pace? Ran a certain distance? Still feel slightly nauseous when you try to use that phrase?

Was there a piece of gear that made you a “real runner”?

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