Never Apologize For Your Pace

I have an amazing friend who is training for a half marathon right now.  She recently killed a long run (after being super sick for several days, while also taking care of 3 awesome little kids).   She posted her run on social media and then remarked that it was slow.  I wanted to crawl through the computer and yell at her.  “Never apologize for your pace!”  


As a running coach, I have heard so many different versions of this.  “Oh, I run….but I am slow.”  Or I often find that the biggest hesitation people have about coming to a group run is that they will be the slowest.  Some people even worry that they will be the last to cross the finish of the race.

Let me tell you something; there will always be someone faster than you.  Even Meb (who is pretty darn fast) has competitors who might consider him to be slow.  But here is the awesome flip side; you will always be faster than someone.  From my experience, that last person to cross the finish line was never worried about being last.  They are almost always super excited to have finished.  The odds of you ever finishing last in a race are very slim.  Yet if you were to be the last one to cross the finish line, wasn’t finishing the whole point to begin with?

Fast and slow are subjective.  And as my husband recently pointed out to me, not everything in life is a race or a competition.  Running is an activity that is healthy and hopefully makes you happy.  There isn’t some cookie cutter guideline of how fast or how far you have to go to be a runner.


One of the best things about this sport is that it embraces all levels, all distances, ages….you name it.  No one at a race is looking at the back of the pack with disdain.  In fact, many people stick around specifically to cheer on those runners.  Spectators are inspired by their dedication and tenacity.  In my totally unscientific opinion, I would imagine that the runners at the back of the pack in races are what lead to many new runners deciding to throw on a pair of shoes and give it a try for the first time.  That seems a lot more realistic than watching Shalane Flanagan for the first time and thinking, “Hey, I think I could give that a try!”

Your slow could easily be someone else’s fast.  Your fast might be another person’s jog.  Who cares?!  I have never passed someone and even thought for a second about what pace they were running.  Every time I am passed I am impressed by the other runner’s speed and power.  What a special sport to be able to look at it from both sides!

So whether you run a 6 minute mile or a 16 minute mile, do me a favor and never, ever apologize for your pace.  Be proud of yourself, runner!


35 thoughts on “Never Apologize For Your Pace

  1. Thanks for writing this! It was great to read. I’ve been running for about 3 years now. A friend just started. She’s just run a sub 55 10k and I try my hardest and at my best I got 64minutes…I always try not to compare myself, just to look at my own journey and see how far I’ve gone but it can be tough!

  2. What a great posting! you nailed it. One of the things I love about running is the community. People fast or slow, fit or fat, tall or small support each other and really care. Unlike any other sport running often give up their place in a race to stop or slow down to help another runner…

    I love the fact in our community; “How did you do?” doesn’t mean what did you place in the race, it means how was your run and did you meet YOUR expectations. I want to be faster but that not for anyone else but me, like most runners we expect more out of ourselves than others do and when running a race it ourselves we race against.

    I was fast as a 17 year old and i’m slow as a 57 year old but I feel the same when I cross the finish. Great post well said!

      • I think both running and being around happy – positive – people changes you. I’ve see people who are not the most pleasant to be around change after a short time running. I smile allot more at work when people are stressing and it seems to annoy them. (Isn’t Happy Pleasant People a song? Ohhhh Play list time…)

  3. And even if you do finish last, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve finished DEAD LAST before, as in people were hanging around waiting for me to finish, and I’m still alive.

  4. I’ve been struggling with my pace lately, though I’m so happy to be running/training again for a race. After spending most of last year injured, this year is all about getting stronger and rebuilding. My pace will come later. Great post!

  5. EXACTLY! YES! What’s that meme? You are still lapping the person on the couch 🙂 But really, it’s running – if you like it, who cares what pace you run? If it makes you happy, do it. Fellow runners don’t care if you are fast or slow – they just care that you are part of the running family!

    • My goal is to just get others to enjoy this sport. I think we worry too much about what people think we look like or do. And in most cases, people are too worried about themselves to even notice how fast you are running.

  6. I totally agree! I have a friend who is faster than I am and she always says she’s slow, which I find really upsetting because I don’t consider myself fast! It’s so important to realize your slow might be someone else’s fast.

  7. Such a great post! Actually just yesterday I came across a quote saying something like whether you run a 6 minute mile or a 12-minute mile, it’s still as far. Unfortunately, we tend to compare ourselves and get discouraged instead of being proud of our own achievements and motivated by success of others.

  8. totally agree – great post Sarah…whenever someone passes me on the trail, i just make the assumption that i’ve probably ran twice as far already 🙂 not really, but it gives me a smile! great points on the importance of enjoying running for what we get out of it, no matter how long it takes us to get there…we all get to enjoy the journey and the accomplishment (and the bling and the beer!)

  9. Absolutely – I always tell the tale of my first race that I ran when I was 46, full of residual childhood fear of being so slow that I was last and everyone laughed at me. Of course I ended up mid-pack and people were awesome!

    My body amazes me all the time in what it can accomplish, and every day I go out for my run and it is just a great gift that I can di this!

    But I also feel like I need an auto-bot that that reminds people to be proud of themselves – there is no ‘right’ distance or race or pace or whatever … enjoy what you do, and get out of it what you want to get out. Stay happy and health and safe!

    • The people were awesome…. That’s what I hope most people will come to find. They really are. From the other runners to the spectators and race staff. The people ARE awesome.

  10. I used to apologize for my pace all the time pre-injury. Now, that pace, which I thought was so slow is super fast to me. 🙂 I don’t worry about it anymore. I’m just happy to be running!!

  11. Thank you for this post! I am a “back of the pack” runner – avg 12 min mile, 11:30 on shorter runs.. and I am sometimes embarrassed by it but you know what? I’m still out there when others are on the couch. 🙂

  12. Thank you for the reminder, which I need every now and then. At my peak of training, a few years ago, I got to a 12mm. Now, a few years later (and with a few years off in between), I’m struggling to go faster than a 15mm. But I’m still out there, giving it my best. And yes, I’ve been dead last before. I was the one with the police bike escort. And I was surprised at how many other runners will still around just waiting for the last runner (that was me) to come by. It truly is a great community to be a part of.

  13. I love this so much! I run with a guy who is so much faster and apologize every time we run and it makes me sad! But he continues to run with me so I have to assume he likes the company– so no more apologies! we’re all different and I’m ok with that. Thank you for this!

  14. This helped inspire me. I ran/walked a half marathon this year but would really like to run one again and be proud of my time. I was proud to finish but I didn’t train properly for it and knew I couldve done better. This makes me feel better about my current mile time and was encouraging! Thanks!

    • Congrats on completing your first half. What a huge accomplishment! While it is never easy, having already done one, the next will be easier. You will know what to expect and how to handle it. Way to go!

  15. Amen, sister, while there’s nothing wrong with desire to be at a certain place/pace, the fact that we’re always improving and pushing toward goals should bring us the real joy.

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