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 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.
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.
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.
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:
- 10 Steps to Conquer Any Running Goal
- How to Run a Faster Mile | 9 Ways to Run Faster
- 35 Running Mantras for Motivation and Strength