What Type of Runner Are You?


By Rick Morris


One of the spookiest movies I have seen is the original version of “The Stepford Wives” in which all of the women in the show were like robotic clones. They were all exactly alike. That would be a disturbing world to live in. Thank goodness it’s just a movie. In real life, no two people are exactly alike. We come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We all have unique personalities, desires and goals. Every runner is also unique. As runners, we all have our own unique goals and reasons for running.


While all of us are very unique as runners, most of us are driven by one of 8 basic reasons for running. Each of these reasons for running fall onto a continuum of sorts. This continuum is based upon a behavior theory. This theory deals with the behaviors of “want to” versus “have to”. Researchers call these behaviors autonomous (I choose to) and controlling (I have to) motivation. These two types of motivation are part of a theory used to explain human motivation called “Self Determination Theory” . According to this theory, autonomous motives come from within yourself and are your own personal choice. In contrast, controlling motives come from, or you perceive that they come from, external sources and are “forced” upon you rather than being your own choice, using your own free will.




























The type of runner you are or why you are running will fall somewhere on the continuum of being forced to run (controlling) and running for the pure joy of running (autonomous). If you are on the controlling side you are less likely to have success with your running. The further you move towards the autonomous side, the more likely you are to meet with a lifetime of successful running.


Here are the 8 types of runners from the most controlling to the most autonomous. Which type of runner are you?


Pacifier – Forced to Run


This type of runner doesn’t like to run – they are running because someone is forcing them to. I have seen a lot of pacifiers running for youth club track teams and high school teams. Their parents are forcing them to run for the fitness benefits. Other pacifiers may be running because they feel their spouse or friends are forcing them to or they need to run to meet work requirements.


Likelihood of lifetime running success – zero to dismal


Socializer – Peer Group Runner


A runner of this type runs for a sense of belonging. They may have a group of friends that run and they want to fit into the group. Maybe there is a running group at their place of employment and they don’t want to be the only person not running. This type of runner also does not enjoy running, but does like the camaraderie and social aspect of running.


Likelihood of lifetime running success – low


Improver – Running for Lifestyle Change


A common reason for running is for a positive change of lifestyle. This type is running to reduce stress, improve their overall health and take steps to improve their lifestyle. An improver probably doesn’t really like running but does enjoy the improvements it makes in their overall health and stress levels.


Likelihood of lifetime running success – low to moderate


Achiever – Goal Based Runner


It has become a common practice for individuals to begin running as a way to meet one specific goal. By far the most common goal for an achiever is to finish a marathon. Achiever’s set a running goal for a variety of reasons including lifestyle change, weight loss, fitness and health. Most achievers are new to running. Some may fall in love with running and continue for a lifetime while others may really hate it and never run again.


Likelihood of lifetime running success – varies from low to high depending upon success in meeting their goal and how much they enjoyed the process.


Loser – Weight Loss Runner


For beginning runners, weight loss is a very common reason for running. Running burns a ton of calories so most losers will enjoy a lot of initial success. Because of that success many losers move to more autonomous running reasons. Some – but not all. Some others may not enjoy the process and quit before reaching their weight loss goals and others may reach their goal, but then quit running.


Likelihood of lifetime running success – moderate


Gainer – Fitness Runner


This is a very large group of runners. A gainer runs for the health and fitness benefits. This type of runner may or may not enjoy running, but they definitely like the fitness benefits they gain from running.


Likelihood of lifetime running success – moderate to high


Racer – Competitive Runner


A competitive runner runs for the thrill of competition and the love of competing against themselves and other runners. This type of runner likes to run, but loves competition.


Likelihood of lifetime running success – high to very high


Lifer – Pure Runner


A lifer runs for the pure joy of running. This type of runner probably also likes to compete, but they are not driven by competition. They run because they love the feeling of pushing themselves to new and higher levels. They enjoy the feeling of pushing their bodies to the limit. They love the freedom of running, the thrill of running fast and the peace of a long easy run.


Likelihood of lifetime running success - insured





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