Pace Isn’t Everything

I just came across a lovely blog post by Cat Story called “Slow runners deserve some damn respect” and I have to say, I love it. She beautifully and succinctly explains how much courage, honesty, and determination it takes to get out there and run when you know you aren’t ever going to be as fast as the elites. I particularly love her quote “What you think is slow might be someone’s dream” because it is SO TRUE. As a slower runner myself, I have to work for that sub-12 minute mile pace, and there are runners out there who would love to be able to run a sub-12! And yet, we are still all runners, simply because we are getting out there and moving our body in a forward motion.

Being a slow runner is tough. It means that when training for long distance goals, we have to carve more time out of our schedules to get the requisite amount of miles on our legs. It means that we may be limited in the distances we can do on training runs, because we don’t want to overload our bodies too much and get injured. It means our bodies take a tougher pounding and for longer than the 6 minute milers. It means we have to fight through a totally different set of demons in order to convince ourselves, our friends, or our family, that what we are doing is worthwhile, despite knowing we will never make the podium. Because it IS worthwhile. Setting your sights on a goal, making a plan to achieve it, and then going through that plan regardless of what real-world issues we encounter, is a worthy endeavor! If that goal is meaningful to you, then it is worthwhile. If that goal challenges you, then it is worthwhile. Pace and speed only matters as much as you want it to matter. If anyone tells you differently, send them to me and I will set them straight!

I particularly love this blog post because slow runners tend to be fairly invisible to the non-running world. It’s pretty easy to hear about the Usain Bolts and the Shalane Flanagans, they’re fast and they’re famous and amazing athletes. But then you hear about them so much, it is easy to forget about alllllll of the other people who are also running the same races. Who are also training their butts off to achieve their own personal victories of a sub-5 hour marathon or a sub-35 minute 5k or to run Boston for the first and only time. And so, when slow runners talk to their friends or family about their efforts, it can be easy to be dismissed because these goals don’t fit into the larger cultural narrative of what runners look like or race like or how fast they are.

Up until a year ago, I had absolutely zero plans to run a marathon. None. Nada. Zip. Not gonna happen. How my mind got changed is a story for a different blog post, but let me tell you about all of the people who were totally surprised by my lack of desire to check that 26.2 off my list. I’d done half marathons, and the full is like the holy grail of running, right? That’s what every runner wants to accomplish, right? I’d look at these people with my eyebrow cocked and say “do you have any idea how much time and work and brain space it takes to train for a marathon?” Most of these people, none of whom were runners themselves, had absolutely no idea. And if they did, their notions were based on a friend who was an 8 minute miler, and thus could knock out a 5 mile tempo run during a workday lunch period. I’m planning to run my first full in October 2019. My first 6 months of 2019, guess what I’m working on? Strength and speed, so I focus on getting as many miles on my legs as possible during marathon training in the limited amount of time I have between a full-time job, part-time coaching, and trying to a generally social human being who also likes to spend time with her cats. And yet, I’ll still be pretty slow, and that is a-ok with me!

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