Don’t Belittle Your Accomplishments

I’ve noticed some interesting things while perusing running blogs as of late.  While I don’t read blogs that have any sort of negativity towards slow runners (because I will not stand for that), I’ve noticed a sort of shame among us slow runners.  And I’m guilty of it too.

Here are some quotes that I’m not going to attribute to the blogs from which they came, as I don’t want to embarrass anyone.  However, if you want to claim a quote, go ahead and do so in the comments, and I will put in a link.

“Haha, I’m slow, I only run an 11 minute mile.” (Note – I think an 11 minute mile is fast.)

“Well, I only run/walk, I don’t run.”  (Tell that to Jeff Galloway.)

“I’ll be starting in the last corral because I’m slow.”  (Yes, and you’re still out there.)

“I’m only doing the half marathon.” (Okay, this isn’t about speed, but it’s still about belittling the accomplishment, and ONLY A HALF MARATHON?  There is no only.)

And it’s not just slow runners that I see this with.  New runners, short distance runners, a lot of people are guilty of it.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Admittedly, it can be hard to be the slow one.  Among my close friends, I’m not the slowest, but I’m definitely close to it.  Thankfully, these friends are awesome, so I don’t feel bad about it.  And with my health issues, I’m not likely to get a whole lot faster, especially in the short distance races.  I’ve got some room to improve in longer distances, so that’s where I focus, but I will never qualify as fast.

And I know that some of you are probably reading this and thinking “What is she talking about?  Her half marathon PR is a 2:48.  I will never be that fast. ” (And some of you are thinking “Wow, she’s slow.”  Some are thinking “Hey, we’re the same pace!”  And the rest of you are thinking “Who in the world wants to run a half marathon?”)

So I know I’m not the slowest of the slow, but I’m not fast either.  I’m in the last 25% of runners, probably even further back than that.  Does it matter?  No.  But sometimes, it hurts when others say things to unintentionally belittle my goals and accomplishments.

“Oh my gosh, I could never run a marathon at a 1/1 run/walk interval.  That’s way too slow for me.”

(The friend who said this probably doesn’t remember she said it, nor did she intend for it to hurt as much as it did, but these things happen.)

It’s tough when I finish a race to find the awards ceremony already started.  Not that I thought I was winning any awards, but it still rubs a bit.  Not that I expect the fast runners to have to wait for me to finish.  It’s just one of those moments where I realize just how slow I am.

So what’s the point?  The point is to not care. So what if you’re slow?  Own it.  It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Keeping the Faith, where the kid chants “I love that I suck!”

Except you don’t suck, of course. You rock because you’re out there doing it.  So what if you’re slow.  Don’t let it get you down.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Set goals for yourself.  Maybe those goals are to get faster.  Maybe those goals are to reach a new distance.  Maybe those goals are to take as many ridiculous race pictures as possible.  Figure out what you want and set that goal.  Just be reasonable.  For example, I will never qualify for Boston.  The qualifying time for an 80-year-old woman is 5 hours and 25 minutes.  While I have never run a marathon, a race predictor tells me that a person who can run a 5:25 marathon will run a 2:34 half.  I can run a 2:48 half now.  I don’t think that I’m going to be faster in my 80’s.

But you know what?  That’s okay.  My goals right now are to someday get my half time under 2:45.  It’s going to take speedwork and finding a race in a nice cool climate.  My other goals are to finish a marathon and a triathlon.  I will be slow at all of those things too.  And I need to remind myself to not let it get me down.  No one cares that I’m slow.  I shouldn’t care either.


11 thoughts on “Don’t Belittle Your Accomplishments

  1. Thanks, Betsy. And nope, you never said anything mean. You have called me crazy more than a few times, but I know you say that with love!

  2. Great post. I’m 100% guilty of this.
    I think it’s just easier to call yourself slow because there’s no word for “well, I feel weird calling myself fast because I’m really not that fast, but I’m not that slow either, but it’s more acceptable to say slow because if I said I’m fast, people faster than me will have a good laugh at me seeming full of myself”
    It’s easier to use that as an excuse, too, like you’d rather be under-confident than overconfident.

  3. I am a self admitted “slow runner” and I completely agree with all of your points. Sometimes its hard not to get caught up in blogs where people are running sub 2 hour half marathons but every so often I have to step back and remember where I’ve come from, and as long as I cross that finish line that’s all that matters. Well said!

  4. I’m a slower runner and have been thinking lately about some of the things you mention. I need to remind myself of how much I HAVE accomplished rather than getting bummed about being at the back of the pack. It doesn’t always bother me, but like you mentioned it’s sometimes discouraging when they have started the awards or have run out of food when I finish.

    I love reading your blog. You always seem to touch on topics that have been on my mind recently.

  5. Amen! We should measure our goals and accomplishments against ourselves – not others.
    I’ve been very intentional about celebrating the success of my first half-marathon last weekend. I will use it as a benchmark for future goals to get a little faster, but I’m not going to skip over this celebration/high-five/thumbs-up moment because I am so concerned with what’s next.

  6. Ride that high, Anne! You should celebrate it. Congrats on your first, and welcome to the addiction! 😉

  7. you are crazy.

    also, you have an admirable attention span. I make no apologies for being slow, but I will say I’m afraid that, because of being slow, I’ll get bored when I do my first half!

  8. Betsy, running is the perfect time to indulge the lack of an attention span. Your body sort of goes on auto-pilot and you can think about all the things. Or just enjoy the scenery. There’s always scenery at races.

  9. I love your blog post today. Thanks for helping me feel better about running at my own pace.

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