Last week, I read an article in Women’s Running Magazine that reminded me of why I prefer to run by myself. I know my natural tendency is toward cynic, so I tried reading it several times looking for the good. While the author hardly states you should quit unless you run an 8 minute mile, I found myself shaking my head at something new each time. I’m just going to quote some of my favorite parts here.
1. “I get it. You run 12 or 15 minutes per mile and are embarrassed to call yourself a runner because a lot of people are faster. Here’s a secret: “fast” runners feel the same way.”
Perhaps faster runners are loath to call themselves fast, or elite runners call themselves as such. But they are still calling themselves runners. I am positive that I am not the only one of my 12-15 minute mile comrades who has been observed “jogging” by others when they are sprinting for their very lives. Sorry “fast” runners, can’t empathize with you here.
2. “There is no difference between the runner who breaks 30 minutes for the 5K for the first time and the one that breaks 16 minutes. Both worked hard, sacrificed to achieve their goal, and experienced the same challenges.
That means all runners can relate to each other, no matter their speed.”
Thank God that I did not run (rimshot!) into this article any earlier than I did. Had I read this as the elated, first time 5k 40 minute finisher I once was, I would have been devastated that this (likely) well-intentioned writer did not see me as a runner. If the idea is to encourage people to think past fast or slow, why bother mentioning times in this context?
3. “There’s no need to preface any of your questions or thoughts about running with “I am slow.” I’m fast and I face the same challenges and fears. All runners do.”
First, why is the author prefacing his thought with the fact he’s fast if it doesn’t matter? Yes, given his personal times he’s mentioned in the article, he is fast. I thought the point of the article was to get past that kind of thinking. Moreover, because everyone is at a different place in their running, it IS important to discuss pace when running with someone else even if you don’t want to attach adjectives to it. Yes, my speed work can be someone’s easy day. Will that make me a better runner? Highly likely. Will it make me feel better, as I had gathered the point was? Absolutely not.
I will give the author some props. He does say negative self-talk is unproductive. True. Saying that you’re slow isn’t exactly the most effective way to get faster. But what is the point of improving? To be able to say you’re fast like this dude? In my opinion, that’s pretty small minded.
Guess what? If you run significantly faster than I do, I’m not going to relate to you. I will respect you, I will admire you, I might even look up to you. If you’re not a jerk about it, I probably will want to learn how you got to be as awesome as you are. Please, don’t patronize me. I am where I am. Now run along.