If you follow me especially on instagram (@alliy_sweat_sweetly) you might notice that I don’t generally share my pace for my runs or races. I don’t really share it on here either other than just a line in a race recap. When I do talk about pace I generally don’t make much of a comment on it either.
I do however set goals and a PR makes me giddy with happiness IRL. I even have chalkboard section on my medal holder at home proudly displayed in our staircase on the way to the bathroom for guests to see. So why not share how fast I go on every run then?
The run counts more than the speed
Whether I’m doing a specific run in training for a big race or just blowing off steam on a random Saturday in January the fact that I get out there at all and cover the distance is way more important than how long the session lasts.
When it comes to building endurance and your health the speed you go has little to do with it. More than anything though the mental health benefits of exercise have literally nothing to do with speed. Lots of runners, including me by the way, still swear that running boosts your mood in a special way compared to walking.
The better mood and mental clarity that comes with a run really has nothing to do with speed.
I’m only competing with the runner I used to be
I have and still do want to get faster as I continue in my running journey and who doesn’t love a good PR? Though at some point I will be old enough that I will get slower with time, not faster and that’s okay with me too. I’ve done lots of speed work and I have gotten faster as time went on. When I started I consistently came in the second half of runners to cross the line. Closer to the middle than the end but make no mistake still very much past the median point.
With years of hard work I started finishing right in the middle for my age group and then after a few more years in the first half. Again always closer to the middle than the front of the pack but still that’s real progress.
In other words like most runners I was never going to finish last but I wasn’t going to come in first either. That doesn’t matter though, I’m only ever interested in beating one runner on the course out there. That runner is the runner I used to be.
I might be fast or slow to you but that doesn’t really matter
Probably the main reason I don’t share my speed on runs is that I think I have more to share than just falling into the category of faster than you or slower than you. I have one running friend that is about 20 years older than me and can leave me in the dust and I’m a freakin’ gazelle to my mom at least.
Jokes aside as runners we tend to feel a certain way about runners that are faster than us and differently about runners that are slower than them. It can lead us to idolize those that are faster and discount those that are slower. I’d like to see us idolizing those that have the healthiest running practices and discounting those that take risks with unhealthy running behaviors instead. Guess what… none of that is reflected in a runners pace.
Overtraining, running in pain and ignoring signals from your body don’t make you healthier over time instead that might even leave you less healthy over time. Nothing about another runner’s pace can really tell you anything about how they are treating their body.
So many factors go into a run
Even for a well trained, consistent healthy runner so many factors can go into how much you can put in and how much you get out of a run. In fact you might set out feeling like you’re on fire only to return home a little later than you expected. Conversely, you might drag yourself out the door feeling tired, sore or sweaty but end up with an unexpectedly speedy run. These two runs might even happen back to back.
All runners are dealing with way more factors both internal and external that are even beyond their control. Things like:
- The heat/humidity/cold
- The sleep you got or didn’t get last night
- The day you had at work
- The fight you had with someone
- Your last run
- The last meal you had
- Where you are in training
- The surface you’re running on
- Whether you picked the right outfit
- Everything else in life!
Does speed matter to me?
In a word, yes, but not as much as it used to. I still want to break my own records. I’m pretty sure just doing another olympic or marathon I would break my record. When I unexpectedly beat my 5k PR I was stoked. Well, nauseous and stoked if we are being honest.
I know a day will come, sooner than I might like, that I will get slower rather than faster over time. But that day is not today. For a long time I was more focused on speed than I am now. Perhaps because I have a lot less time to run but now it’s more exciting to get out there, how fast I get back seems like less of a big deal.
I don’t think it’s wrong for people to share their time on social media. If you want to share then I say go for it! But if you don’t want to, don’t feel pressured to do so.
One thing I love about my race day support system is when honey shares a post at the start line. Then as I’m running I get all sorts of encouraging comments that show up on my Apple Watch. One person though always writes the same thing “what’s her time.” Which for some reason I can’t explain always makes me feel some sort of icky way.
Once I realized that, I decided not to focus on speed because in the end participation is way more important than how long it takes you to get to the finish line.
When you’re scrolling the runners of instagram tag does a runner’s speed change the way you think they compare to you? Do slow runners have nothing to teach us while the rabbits amoung us hold all the insights? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
I totally agree with the sentiments here about the act of doing rather than the detail, is most important. The health benefits of running still happen when running, regardless of speed. Yes of course to develop you need an appropriate level of challenge, but since challenge is individual in nature, a statistic is really there for you as a milestone perhaps, but doesn’t really benefit others who you share it with, unless it is something they may be inspired to aim for. And if you care too much then maybe people would become less motivated with injury or age. Neither can be avoided totally …
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