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!