As a slower runner, I’ve heard (and read on social media) plenty of comments about pace. Not my pace specifically, but any pace that is considered slow; slow being relative. I get aggravated with some, I ignore most of such comments. But this post is about the other side of the running pace conversation – not the fast commenting on the slow, but vice versa.

Stop Saying I could Never Run that Fast

Recently, I was having a conversation with a runner colleague that I’ve become good friends with and a lot of our talk is around running.  He is also fast (he recently ran a sub 2:45 marathon) and is very encouraging. He listens to me trying to figure out my training schedule and my efforts to get to my goals.

When I discovered that we would be running the same race except I’d be running the 13.1 and he’d be running the 26.2, I joked that my goal was to finish my half marathon before he finished his full marathon. That wasn’t my first time making a joke like that comparing our paces, and he always laughs it off saying that I don’t give myself enough credit. Except this time, he said I wish you wouldn’t say that and changed topics from running to other work stuff.

The way he said that abruptly haunted me. 

I figured that my “joke” wasn’t a joke anymore and it bothered me. So the next time I saw him, I asked him. His answer was something I totally didn’t expect. 

His sub 2:45 marathon, which is crazy fast and yes, faster than some of my half marathons, was still x:xx minutes off his goal time. My comparing my “fastest” half marathon time to his full marathon time made him feel that he couldn’t share his frustrations of missing his time goal. 

With exceptions of a few jerks, everyone is encouraging of people who are trying and getting out there (I cannot tell how many positive messages I’ve had – even when I took my running hiatus, even when I’m not as active in triathlons as I was that year to Augusta). And we all admire and cheer for those who are training hard and getting fast.

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My running group – slow, medium, fast and every pace in between

But by comparing my pace to his pace at that moment when he was talking about HIS pace goal, I trivialized his effort as a fast runner.

I viewed him (and some of my other fast friends) as a freak of nature. I know they all work incredibly hard to get where they are at, but by comparing paces I made it sound like the fast freak of nature was what helped him work hard, not his own heart and legs training every day to get to HIS goals

So the next time someone tells me  that they ran a xx:xx pace/time, my reaction is going to simply be “Go you!” 

Not a “Go you! That’s fast” or “Go Speedy”. 

Or when they tell me that they ran x miles, my reply will be “WTG! How’s the training coming along?

Not a “WTG! I only ran … miles.”

And when someone asks me what my pace/goal is, I’m going to simply reply – “I’m aiming to run a xx:xx”

Not a “I’m slow. So it will be great if I can run a xx:xx”

Because speed is relative. Distance is relative. Effort is universal. And let them have their moment instead of interjecting with comparisons of our own.

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I had written this post a few weeks back but had not published it. A few days back, I came across this very discussion in a FaceBook group and decided to publish it. 


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Stop saying “I could never run that fast”
  • Oh, I love this!
    I will actually correct people if they say something like “I only ran XX” or “It’s just a 10k” because it’s not only, or just anything. I think we really need to give ourselves credit for what we’re able TO do.

  • This is precisely why I loathe the question many ask me when they learn I’m a runner: “Are you fast?” It’s all relative!

  • Chaitali Shah

    Really great post, thanks! I never thought about it from this perspective and it’s something to definitely keep in mind.

  • Rachel

    I love this post. The comparison game is so dangerous. Your fast is my slow. Your slow is my fast. It’s all the same. Just get out there and run. 🙂

  • we have a saying in our group when people say they are slow-“your slow is someone else’s fast”. We try not to focus on pace in our mrtt group so it feels inclusive

  • You know this is really interesting to me since I’ve slowed down dramatically with my diagnosis of RA. Yet I hear the saying “your slow is my fast”. I get that, but it doesn’t make me feel better. Even though it’s meant to be. We are all running our own races. I’m really glad you posted this. It hit the nail on the head for me.

  • Elaine @myRUNexperiment

    While pace is relative, it’s really all about putting our best efforts during a race. The struggle your 2:45 friend felt while trying to achieve his goal time is the same struggle you felt aiming for your half marathon goal. Ultimately it’s all about the hard work you’ve done to reach your goals.

  • Great post! What is fast for some is slow for others, we all run a different race!

  • Kimberly

    I vonsider myself a middle to back of the pack runner (depending on the size of the race), and I’m guilty of this as well. Sometimes I’ll say I am representing for the turtles, lol. It make me laugh because I know it’s all said in fun, but never thought how other might perceive it. Thanks for the reminder to be consicous of my words.

  • Toni Church

    You make a good point. People say that to me and I am by no means fast, but faster than somea and I always feel like it does diminish my goal. Definitely some food for thought here.

  • Lex

    This is such great advice! I’m a back-of-the-packer myself, and I need to stop with the negative talk! Thanks for sharing!

  • Madhuri

    So true!!! Everyone deserves a cheerleader whether they’re fast or slow or medium. Thanks for putting a different spin to this.

  • Such a great perspective!! I hear a lot of people discount their performance because it may take them longer than others…and I tell them to be proud they have the endurance to go that long! They’re working just as hard as the “faster” ones 😉

  • Kathryn Thayer

    Its so easy to fall into the comparison trap. Instead, we all need to focus on celebrating our own abilities and accomplishments.

  • Sandra Laflamme

    Pace and race time is so personal. We all have our own best times.

  • RunJenny

    Great point. Thanks for publishing!

  • Abby

    Yes, fast, slow, it is all relative to everyone and we all judge it so differently.