Defending slow running

A recent conversation with someone pissed me off.  I have had similar conversations before this one with other people, and they have had to do with the definition of a runner.  We were discussing another runner’s time in a long distance run.  I said something about how long it would take me to run the same distance, about an hour longer.  This person stated, “Yes, but he’s a runner.” ….pause… “Well, I mean you’re a runner too but you know what I mean.”  No, actually I do NOT know.  I was actually kind of shocked by the comment since this person knows how much I run.

So first of all, since 2006 I have completed 21 races, which included 8 half marathons and one 30km run (that one in pouring cold rain-yuck!).  Therefore, I have logged thousands of kilometres of training runs since 2006. According to my Nike records since mid 2010 I have logged 1,339.18 km and that was with some big non-running periods in there when I focused on cycling, and a few months when I just didn’t feel like running.  I also run sometimes without any gizmos, so there’s no record of those runs.

I have also had several running related injuries: planter fasciitis, IT band syndrome, morton’s neuroma.  I’ve recovered from all of those, and learned stretches and exercises to prevent further injuries.

All that said, I don’t think anyone has to run as far as I have or suffer injuries to be able to call themselves a runner.  Nor do I think you have to be fast, which I am not.  That brings me back to the comment above.  Was the comment because I am not a FAST runner?  No, I’m not fast but really the vast majority of runners will never win a race, and even if you do win that still doesn’t mean that winning a local small city race will make you competitive enough for the Olympics, not by a long shot.  I think there are runners and then there are professional runners.

I really don’t care about my speed compared to others.  I like to compare my time to my previous times but even then I don’t beat myself up about it.  I like to run; it makes me feel good and keeps my heart healthy, which is very important given my family history of heart disease.  I also know that I have limitations on the speed I’ll be able to achieve.  Everyone’s body is different.  For example, I can do pushups from my toes, and I can do so with fairly little effort.  I know some women that struggle with pushups from their knees and they work very hard at building strength to be able to do a pushup from their toes. In the same way, some people are just naturally faster runners. But that’s no reason to disregard my efforts as runner, and I don’t disregard other people’s efforts to build strength.  We all start from a different place and work towards OUR best.

I don’t like to hear other runners say they are not a ‘real’ runner.  If you’re out there pounding the pavement or logging mileage on a dreadmill, I don’t care the speed or the walk breaks taken… you can call yourself a runner.

I am a runner.


2 thoughts on “Defending slow running

  1. Oh, this is a pet peeve of mine too– jerks who say you’re only a ‘runner’ if you run at race-competitive paces and you have a certain body type. If folks are lucky enough to be gifted runners who train hard and can win races, good for them!

    But for the rest of us, the enjoyment of running and competing against ourselves and working on our PRs, no matter how slow, is enough. I was pleased as heck to knock 3 minutes off my 5k time– I may have finished last among the runners, but I did better than the year before!

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