When I first started running in 2010, I was slow. I would walk/run most of my training runs, even the short ones. It was a huge feat for me must to finish my first half, which was at a lightning fast 12:01pace. My neatly organized google doc of all my running times tells me that over the past three years, I’ve shaved over a minute off of my average pace during races. Before the Disneyworld Marathon I was doing speedwork in hopes of a PR. The nagging ITBS derailed this plan and I had to switch to the just finish mentality. Post marathon I’m hovering around a 10-10:30 pace. A couple of workouts this week even made it under the 10 minute mile pace (just under 10 at 9:57, but under!). I feel fast. I feel strong.
I started searching some twitter running hashtags and saw people posting about their 7 minute, 6 minute, 5 minute mile times. And then I felt slow again. The happy running high was quickly deflated. Why do I think I can call myself a runner? When people find out I’m a runner and want to talk about it, I always disclaim it with, “Oh yes, but I’m slow.” I guess there’s always been a part of me that has never felt like a “real runner” because of my speed, or lack thereof.
But then I remembered that it’s never been about being the fastest runner. It’s about keeping my body physically fit. It’s about release. It’s about physically challenging myself. It’s about having a stress reliever and the space to let my mind work through some tough life issues on a long run. It’s about pushing myself to things I never thought possible (half marathon, marathons, heck even five miles was an accomplishment when I first started out – when I was in elementary school I almost flunked out of PE because I refused to run). It’s about being out in nature and getting to enjoy and bask in its beauty. It’s about helping discover the wonder of running . It’s about learning life lessons.
I know I’ll never be the fastest (short girl with short legs, not exactly the natural born runner), but this won’t stop me from trying to improve and push myself to new limits and it also shouldn’t stop me from proudly declaring that I am a runner.
(via Our Time to Change)
A mile is a mile, and I am a runner.