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.
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.
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.
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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