It’s Not Always A Race

This is a funny thing for me to post considering how incredibly competitive I can be at times and for all of the years that I nagged Rock to speed up on our leisurely runs.  Sorry Rock!

The other day he came home from a hot and windy 22 mile training run.  Ah, nothing feels as good as finishing that last big long run in your training plan (except sleeping in, which is what I did).  Sure he has a few more long runs to go before the marathon, but the biggest is out of the way

He did this run all around NYC and spent a good portion of it in hilly Central Park.  Later in the day he was telling me that as he pushed to get through those final miles he noticed people passing him at times.  Neither of us are super speedy but we do carry a decent pace and tend to be the ones passing more often than getting passed.  He found it discouraging at times but had to remind himself that he was doing 22 miles and odds were that people passing him were doing a much shorter run.

I’ve been known to let my ego get the best of me and speed up in Central Park or get caught up in a friendly “push” for a few miles.  But recently when I went to pass someone and he gave me a nod and tried to out pace me I waved him off and said, “I’m too pregnant for that.”  Now that got a sideways glance!


We runners often spend a lot of our time “training” for something.  This is of course great because I believe it keeps us motivated and gives us something to look forward to.  But we need to keep in mind that not every run is a race and sometimes we need to just relax and enjoy our time out on the road or the trail.  Constantly worrying about getting faster or being the fastest is a sure fire way to slowly drain the love out of our sport.

We need to remember that long slow runs are necessary for improving as runners.  The long slow run is an essential training tool for becoming a stronger runner.  These runs are meant to be done at a pace of 30 seconds up to even a minute per mile slower than your normal pace.  The time on your feet and the extra time with an increased heart rate improves your cardiovascular endurance.  All of this is essential for handling longer runs and endurance events.

Slow runs play a part of training just as fast runs do.  Sure fast runs help to improve speed.  But those slow or “easy” paced runs also are necessary training tools.  Easy runs can help you recover a day or two after your long runs and help “shake out” the lactic acid.  Take a look at any training plan and you will see these sporadically placed throughout the week to help you recover or prepare for a longer run.


It is important to get back to why you fell in love with running in the first place.  Odds are you didn’t lace up your shoes the first time and try to run the fastest three miles you possibly could.  If you did that, there’s a good chance you hated it and said you would never run again.  Most of us start out for various reasons usually centered around getting in shape or finding a new way to enjoy the outdoors.  As we improve or feel more comfortable our pace increases, as does the distance.  At some point we often start to push ourselves to become better runners and thus begins the speedier runs.


There is something wonderful about going back to your running grassroots.  Forget the pace.  Heck, forget the GPS or pacing app, and just go for a run.  It is a liberating feeling and you might even discover that your pace speeds up without your even trying.  More importantly, you will enjoy just going for a run.  Just like the good old days!

16 thoughts on “It’s Not Always A Race

  1. Marathon training has both been amazing for me and also ruined me, lol–I haven’t RACED a half in a long time–they are always part of long runs 😀 And with how carefully I train (plus with my finicky body) speed workouts are tough. But LSD runs have changed my training, def for the better!

    • I understand both of these. Last time I trained for a marathon I found it so hard to not sign up for all of my favorite races. I prefer to stay on plan. Those speed workouts are definitely tough but they really do change you as a runner. Learning to do the LSD the right way takes some patience but it really does change you for the better.

    • I’m sure it feels like you are starting over but you still have everything you always did. I’m already dreading training for a marathon post baby because I feel so slow. But truth is, if you follow a plan those paces come back when you do the “easy” runs, “slow” runs and speed work. Enjoy the start of training and your slower pace…..before you know it you will be speeding by!

  2. LOL”I’m too pregnant for that”!!! Love it! I struggle with not running hard during every run, but because I’m not speedy to begin with (so I think I’m overcompensating). Now I turn my watch face inward so I cannot see it, or I run with friends so we can just chat the whole time.

    • I totally understand. But always remember that those slower runs ARE improving your running and are making you faster. But I also get concerned about pacing. I actually think running with people who are slower than you is a great way to chill it out and improve too. And yes….I’m too pregnant for that 😉 I thought it was funny too. I liked the guy’s reaction.

  3. Love this post – great reminders! Right now running and I are not on the same page. I just dont look forward to runs like I used too. I hope it will come back soon when training picks up – I know it will! I just needs some time.

    • I totally understand. It happens to all of us regardless of how much we love the sport. Give it time and change up your routine and before you know it you two will be best friends all over again!

  4. yep yep yep yep to remembering why you intrinsically love running and the role it plays in your life. i try to remind myself of this all the time — esp bc i am NOT one to do speed work or try to “improve” my running/time etc. i just love it. if i get stronger/faster, cool. if i can kill a long run and feel awesome at the end, the best. but if all i can do is eek out 3-5 miles some days at a slow pace and all the world is passing me, hey. i’m still running bc i love it. and i never want to lose that.

    • That is a wonderful way to look at it. I think most of us can benefit from running this way too. If you are feeling it, go for it and enjoy. But sometimes just getting an easy 3 is better than pushing yourself to the point of dread.

  5. So true! When I trained for my first two marathons I got so caught up in running all my runs as fast as I could, pushing myself every day, I burned out/got injured/didn’t do as well as I hoped. Once I started taking my longer runs slower, and spending “more time on my feet”, I noticed a big change in my ability to race long distance.

    • I think so many runners think that long run is a dress rehearsal for the race. It does seem odd to run slower in order to get stronger. But it really does work. So glad you were able to make it work for you.

  6. This is all so true. Story of my life has been train way too fast for everything and get injured. Through this last marathon training I taught myself to slow down a lot on my longer runs. It’s harder than I ever thought it would be but now that I know how to do it, I have found that I enjoy running so much more.

    • Rock was telling me that the likes the long runs because it forces me to slow down and enjoy the runs more. He doesn’t have to deal with me nagging to go faster 😉 I think making those long runs slower truly is the key to a healthier training cycle. Glad you were able to make it work for you.

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