Goal time, pr’s, pace, bla bla bla bla bla bla. The most common conversation I have with people is about how slow they run. And it’s not a conversation like, “I run 9 minute miles!” (insert huge proud smile). It’s more like, “UGH I am so slow, I run a 9 minute mile” (insert sad face). First of all a 9 minute mile isn’t slow so everyone needs to calm down. But I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, if you want to run faster you just have to run faster.
What do you mean if I want to run faster I just have to run faster? Yes. That is what they say and in my experience that is what has worked.
But here’s what I say, stop being ashamed of your pace! Stop calling yourself slow! Who cares? If you run a 13 minute mile average pace during a half marathon people don't say, "They ran a very slow half marathon..." they say, "Holy shit, you ran a half marathon." I remember when I first started running I would consistently Google what an average mile pace was. To be honest, I don't believe there is an “average” runner! Everyone is so drastically different in the beginning. Just the fact that you are running makes you special. I’m always beside myself (and a little jealous) when I find out someone is lightning fast. Then I hear myself say, “I could never run that fast!” I'm guilty as well! But of course I could run that fast if I worked as hard as that person did. But I’m working pretty gosh darn hard as it is and I am pretty happy with how things are going so you know what, I’m good! At the end of the day whether you run a marathon in 3 hours or 6, you ran a marathon.
Falling in love with running, finding that running high, running faster and farther, it all takes time. At least for me it took time. It took me weeks to be able to run 3 miles without stopping. The first few weeks were really hard and I had to really convince myself to stick with it. I really hated running. But once I found my stride there was no turning back, I fell in love. I was curious to see how my pace has improved over the past two years so I pulled my first two runs from RunKeeper to compare to the same dates a year later, and then my last two runs (my 2 year run-i-versary isn’t until Thanksgiving so a month early will have to do.) Check them out for yourself.
It took 2 years and 2,609 miles to get to where I am today. I can’t even begin to explain how my relationship to running has changed. It changes with each long run and every race. It’s always there when I need it but each run is very different. Some are incredible and some are just downright torture. But it’s only a run. Each one is over almost as quickly as it starts, even if it doesn’t feel like it, all you have to do is endure or enjoy. That’s the beauty of setting a goal, it actually takes work to get there. It isn’t 100% enjoyable but then you are able to say look how far I have come!
When I crossed the finished line of my first marathon back in June of 2013, I remember on the car ride home my Dad asked me if I would ever do it again. I said, “Absolutely and I want to do it in 4 hours.” I’m 11 days away from my second marathon and a 4 hour marathon time is within my reach. Am I stressing about running 4 hours? Not really. I really just want to run the entire thing and enjoy it. Being on my phone safely KILLS my time so my goal is to have the best possible time running and sharing the marathon as possible. 4 hours is still my goal time but I know 4:15 may be more realistic.
If you’re a new runner I would recommend that you stop caring about your pace. Just focus your energy on running consistently and running farther. The time will come once you develop your stride and confidence. Find the fun. Don’t avoid hills, charge them. Incorporate speed training once a week (Click Here for some speed training 101). First come loves, then comes marriage. You have to fall in love with running before you can commit to it. It’s not easy getting yourself out of bed in the middle of winter to run. It’s not easy carving 30-60 min out of your busy schedule to get a run in. But if you love it you’ll make it happen. Don’t worry about how slow you are, just have fun.