Slow Runners: Here’s the Reminder We All Need to Hear

Slow runners deserve just as much respect. Here is some motivation and inspiration for slow runners to remind us that it’s the effort that counts – not pace. Check out what every slow runner needs to hear. #slowrunner #slowrunning #runningmotivation

Updated: November 17, 2020

I have always considered myself to be a slow runner. 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.

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 that very few people were running in my age group).

Here’s the truth: I am a slow runner.

Nevertheless, I considered my new PR quite an accomplishment – despite the fact that my pace might be that of a slow, easy run for many others.

Since that race in 2013, I have never again placed in my age group (let alone in a race overall), nor have I tried to place either.

My slow running pace allows me to run long distances, maintain lasting endurance, and enjoy myself along the way. While others might find joy in sprints, intervals and tempo runs, I’ll choose a long, slow run any day.

“Slow runners” are still runners.

Upon meeting, some runners immediately ask about PRs or recent race times. I nod and smile, always leading with the fact that I am just an average, slow 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.

However, despite the kindness of most runners, it still seems that there can be an underlying theme of competition.

We know we run slow.

You don’t have to circle around it. But you know what, we’re still proud. And rightfully so.

I am most certainly a numbers person. I love training plans, structure, data, and analyzing everything in between. And despite being a “slow runner”, I still love breaking down the numbers from my recent 400s or figuring out exactly what pace I’ll need to set a PR.

Slow runners deserve just as much respect. Here is some motivation and inspiration for slow runners to remind us that it’s the effort that counts – not pace. Check out what every slow runner needs to hear. #slowrunner #slowrunning #runningmotivation

Slow runners aim for their own speed.

Speed means pushing to new limits, like digging deep on a tempo run, setting lofty goals or needing to stop and catch your breath after an interval. No matter what your “speed” entails, the efforts are what matter.

Slow runners challenge themselves just as much as their faster friends.

At times, running provides a simple outlet for stress or means to stay in shape. Occasionally, it might involve a variety of small, local races. And sometimes, running might involve calculated training for weeks on end.

While our natural running pace might be significantly slower than the runners we see on TV or those we hear about during a race, we are still runners all the same.

Being a slow runner is a title to wear proudly.

Completing a 5k is the same whether you maintained a 5 minute mile or a 16 minute mile. Finishing a marathon means you conquered 26.2 – a feat that proves to be a challenge regardless of pace.

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

No matter the case, these accomplishments remain significant regardless of our running speed.

Slow running looks different for every person.

For me, after a long break from running, a speed workout may mean that finishing a mile in 9:30 is a massive accomplishment. While during training, 400 meter repeats can easily be run at an 8:00 pace.

It’s so easy to get down on yourself when you feel like a slow runner. With so much emphasis placed on speed and pace in the running culture, it can sometimes feel like a slow mile just wasn’t good enough.

Speed workout brings one failed attempt after another as we try our hardest to increase our pace and conquer the speed we hear others share.

However, we have to remember that slow running is not something from which we need to escape.

Slow runners work just as hard.

We’ve all fallen into the comparison trap at one point or another. When friends and social media influencers seem to be knocking out races at lightening-fast paces, it’s easy to second guess our previous attempts at speed work.

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 earns you that title. Running one mile is the same distance, whether you complete it in 6 minutes or in 13.

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 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, beating my own record, and getting stronger.

While my pace might never earn me any impressive reactions from fellow runners, it is 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.

More slow runner inspiration:

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

26 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m a beginner in that 12 min/mi range & have been trying to improve. But your right- I’m celebrating that I’m even running considering that 3years who I couldn’t at all. Thanks for helping me remember how far I’ve come!

    1. I think it’s always fun to try to improve but it’s definitely important to be proud of where we are currently – no matter how “slow” that may feel! I’ve found that it really helps to compare myself against myself only and forget about what others are doing. Just the fact that we are out there running should be enough to make us feel proud! Congrats on starting and keep up the great work! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Thank you for the inspirational post… from someone who suffers from fibromyalgia and strives to be happy with just being able to run at all no matter my speed!

    1. Hi Dawn – thanks for reading! I think running looks different for every one of us and as long as it makes us happy, then we’re doing it right. Hope you are staying safe and healthy! Wishing you all the best and of course, happy running 🙂

  3. 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.

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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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