I think it’s natural for slow runners to have a preoccupation with being fast. In the beginning you can notice that gap between yourself and others. And it’s that distance that you notice. It seems to stand out, screaming at you: this is why you aren’t a ‘real’ runner, or this is why you aren’t naturally gifted, or this is why you are less. And that difference can extend if people who you started running with, eclipse your efforts.
After awhile though, it’s not the difference that you notice. It’s what you have in common. Yes, even with that 10k speedster who can run 10km in 40 minutes. You have a lot in common with them. And sometimes, they see it more than you do. In the beginning at least. They don’t see how you are slow. They see your passion for running, which they share.
If like me you started running when you were carrying some extra weight, then progress can seem slow too. But of course it is. It seems amazing that I could take 30 minutes of a half marathon time in nine months but when you think about the fact that I no longer have to carry 30 extra kilos 21.1 kilometres it’s not that surprising.
People new to running might often say. I’ll never be fast. As if fast is some kind of measure of a runner’s greatness. You will be fast if you decide to be. But, I think the measure of a runners greatness is not speed. And some of the average times of road runners might surprise you.
To me, greatness is measured in getting out of bed to run when you really don’t want to. It’s in being willing to better yourself. It’s the person who stops running to support someone else. For me the greatness is in the shared experience of our sport. And ultimately if I think I was encouraging people to try running, as I tend to do being a bit runligious, I wouldn’t advocate that people try running so they can be really fast. Try running so you can experience the amazing capabilities of the human spirit on a daily basis. Try running so you can start the day in the fresh air. Try running so you can find your tribe. Try running so you can have fun. Fun is what will attract people to a sport, and it’s what will keep people engaged with a sport. And that’s why I’m all about fun.
Fun can be slow. Fun can be fast. Choose your fun.