What Speed Means to Me: For all the “Slow Runners”

It’s easy to get caught in the comparison trap and feel like a slow runner. If you’ve been feeling stuck with slow running, check out this awesome motivation to continue you. Runners everywhere need to hear the truth with these slow running thoughts. #slowrunner #slowrunning #runningspeed

Since I started running 7 years ago, I have placed in only one race. That race was a small, local 10k put on to raise money for the community. During this race, I pushed myself to paces that felt ridiculously uncomfortable.

Upon finishing, I surprised myself with a personal best and 1st place finish in my age group. (That 1st place award probably had a great deal to do with the fact that the race was so small and had very few people running in my age group;).

Nevertheless, my shiny new PR might be what some consider a slow, easy paced run, but for me it was quite an accomplishment.

Let’s face it: I am a slow runner.

It’s easy to get caught in the comparison trap and feel like a slow runner. If you’ve been feeling stuck with slow running, check out this awesome motivation to continue you. Runners everywhere need to hear the truth with these slow running thoughts. #slowrunner #slowrunning #runningspeed

Since that race in 2013, I have never again placed in my age group (let alone in a race overall). And since that race in 2013, I have never tried to place either.

Speed always seems to be a common topic among runners.

When meeting a fellow runner, they often ask about PRs or recent race times. I nod and smile, always leading with the fact that I am just an average runner – definitely not fast by any means.

They react with a statement of understanding, and express how impressive it is that I am able to run so many miles, regardless of the time. Even so, it seems like I constantly hear about paces, 400s, 800s, and PRs, especially on social media.

Related: 7 Training Strategies to Conquer Your Next Race Goal

I am most certainly a numbers person. A classic, type A personality defines me. I love training plans, structure, data, and analyzing everything in between. While I love breaking down the numbers for my 400s on an interval run or conquering a new marathon PR, it has always struck me that I viewed speed differently than other runners.

It’s easy to get caught in the comparison trap and feel like a slow runner. If you’ve been feeling stuck with slow running, check out this awesome motivation to continue you. Runners everywhere need to hear the truth with these slow running thoughts. #slowrunner #slowrunning #runningspeed

Speed, for me, is not defined by how fast you run.

Speed means pushing myself to new limits, like digging deep on a tempo run, setting lofty goals or needing to stop and catch my breath after an interval. I use the term in a versatile way – but no matter what it is describing, I know that my efforts are always worthy.

At times, running provides a simple outlet for stress and means to stay in shape. During others, it might involve a variety of frequent local, short races. And sometimes, running might involve calculated training for weeks on end.

Sometimes speed may mean pushing myself just a few seconds faster on a 4 mile run. It might mean completing a short run without taking any walk breaks. When training for a race, speed may mean weekly interval runs with very specific time goals.

>>Download the ultimate training plan here!<<

Whatever the case, I make a point to celebrate even the smallest of my “speedy” accomplishments during each and every season.

A speed workout for me after a long break from running may mean that getting to the 9:30 minute mile mark is a massive accomplishment, while in the fall, a tempo run may involve easily completing a 10k at an 8:40 pace.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in feeling like a “slow” runner. We’ve all fallen into the comparison trap at one point or another. When friends and social media influencers seem to be knocking out long runs at lightening-speed paces, it’s easy to second guess our previous tempo miles.

Related: What to Know When Achieving Your Goals Feels Out of Reach

No matter how fast or slow you go, we are all runners. Getting outside and putting one foot in front of the other means you deserve that title. Running one mile at a 13 minute pace is still the same distance as running a mile at a 6 minute pace.

It’s easy to get caught in the comparison trap and feel like a slow runner. If you’ve been feeling stuck with slow running, check out this awesome motivation to continue you. Runners everywhere need to hear the truth with these slow running thoughts. #slowrunner #slowrunning #runningspeed

Don’t let comparison steal your joy. Running is an individual sport that allows us to continuously push ourselves to new bests. We race against ourselves, conquer our minds, and reap the physical rewards.

Speed means one thing: pushing yourself to be your best.

My future probably doesn’t hold any first place finishes or elite starts, but it still holds something great. The future holds continued improvement, never failing to strive for the highest.

While my paces will probably never earn me any impressive reactions from fellow runners, they are still enough to grant me a sense of pride in my accomplishments.

Running is about so much more than just the numbers. It’s about pushing yourself to new distances, paces, and personal breakthroughs. It’s about continuously improving your best.

Just when you think you can’t possibly do anything more, you run that extra mile or shave 10 seconds off your PR. With running, the opportunities are limitless.

Running Speed Workout Ideas & Inspiration:

The long run is the most crucial part of marathon or half marathon training. Whether you are running your first, or 20th, these tips are sure to help you have your best long run ever. These simple ideas will revitalize your training and help all runners enjoy the miles.

It’s easy to get caught in the comparison trap and feel like a slow runner. If you’ve been feeling stuck with slow running, check out this awesome motivation to continue you. Runners everywhere need to hear the truth with these slow running thoughts. #slowrunner #slowrunning #runningspeed
It’s easy to get caught in the comparison trap and feel like a slow runner. If you’ve been feeling stuck with slow running, check out this awesome motivation to continue you. Runners everywhere need to hear the truth with these slow running thoughts. #slowrunner #slowrunning #runningspeed

What Speed Means to Me: Running Inspiration for the "slow runner" out there

What Speed Means to Me: Running Inspiration for the "slow runner" out there

19 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I know I will never be a fast runner and am enjoying “races” just for the energy and excitement that comes from the start and finish area and other runners Back of the packers have more fun at races anyway because we get to talk with each other as we meet along the course!

    1. I absolutely agree! Races are not just for those who are hoping to win. It is so fun to meet others when running leisurely! I have met some of the most inspirational people at races and love being part of all the excitement and energy.

  2. Thank you! I’m often discouraged to hear how fast a friend has finished a race. I have to stop comparing myself to others and just be proud of my personal accomplishments!

    1. I can definitely relate! It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come when you hear a fast friend telling you their race times. Running is such an individual sport; I always try to write down my times and look back through old PRs and distances when I start getting discouraged! I think we sometimes forget how much progress we’ve made, so looking at old, slower times is great reminder 🙂

  3. I love how you say you use the term speed in a versatile way–I think that’s great. Speed is of course relative to all of us. I love reading things from all types of runners with all different abilities–and I like reading things from speed demons! It does bum me out though when they run a 7:30 mile and call themselves slow. I would be thrilled to run that fast–and I would be proud, I wouldn’t lessen my accomplishment because it’s not an accomplishment to someone else. That’s the great thing about running i think-we really only have to compete with ourselves.
    I am currently trying to get faster myself because I think it’s fun. I like the type of work it requires and I like what it does to my body. I am using some different muscles than i was logging those longer slower runs for marathon training! You’re such a great runner–I’m always impressed no matter the distance. Your commitment to the sport is beyond inspiring. Keep it up girl! x

    1. I love how running can be completely a personal sport. You can be good at it personally, even if you’re way slower than other runners or can’t run as long of a distance as others. I’m a slower runner too, but my current pace is about a minute faster than it was last year. Even though I’m still way slower than most of the running community, I know that I’m better than I used to be.

      It’s awesome being able to push yourself to do better than YOU, and not have to compare yourself to others. I can see why racing others can be appealing to some runners, but for me, and many others, I love just trying to beat out my previous times.

      And it’s so fun to analyze your stats and progress!

      Anyway, running long distances (or any distance) is super impressive regardless of how fast you go, so I’m glad you’re proud of your accomplishments and don’t let other runners take that away. It’s something that I’ve struggled with mentally, but I’m finally coming to terms that no matter how slow you go, running is still quite the achievement, and to not let others make me feel like less of a runner for not being fast.

      1. Absolutely love everything you say here! Running is so unique to each of us. I feel so successful when I run but at the same time always feel like I can improve. It keeps me pushing myself, that’s for sure!

        Increasing your pace by a full minute in just one year is INCREDIBLE! That is definitely something to celebrate. It’s so satisfying to see hard work pay off.

        I definitely agree that running is an accomplishment in itself. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

      2. You know what’s funny is, I call myself a “slow” runner, because I know that is acceptable in front of all of you. I know that if my paces were judged by a large percentage of the running community, “slow” is how I would get labeled–so I accept that term for my online persona.
        But in real life—I don’t think I’m slow! I think I am a strong runner with decent speed for a big-boned 34 year old. I just think all those other runners who call themselves slow when they run a 730 mile are crazy and crazy fast! The conversation we are having here just made me think about how what i actually think about myself and what I let society deem upon me are not always aligned. It’s kind of bullshit. If I had any balls (oh wait–but you know what I mean), I would talk about how I think my 809 mile is fast–and i wouldn’t clarify it by saying “but I know this is slow compared to a lot of people…” blah blah. Hmm…writing without a bunch of bullshit qualifiers. There’s an idea.
        Great thoughts girls. x

      3. So true!! I would never even classify myself as slow or fast if I didn’t hear it all on social media and in society so frequently. Ultimately it doesn’t matter at all anyways! Even if I shaved three minutes off my mile time I still would be no where close to winning a race. And I’m perfectly okay with that! Heck if I could run an 8:09 mile I’d think I was flying! Haha you are rockin it and the only person’s opinion that matters is YOURS! Thanks for all the thoughts! 🙂

      4. Girl you are certainly flying in my mind! I could only dream of running that speed haha 😉 that is awesome!!

    2. I completely agree! Running is so unique to all of us. It’s one of the areas in life where I feel the most successful, yet at the same time always know that I could be doing more. Speed work is definitely not one of my favorite things to work on, but I always feel so proud when I see progress. It definitely uses different muscles than long runs! (Maybe this is why it feels like such a struggle all the time, haha;). I hope your speed work is going well! Staying motivated in the winter is always tough but progress is so encouraging. Spring is going to feel like a dream! Thanks for reading girl! 🙂

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