The old Pearl Izumi ads about joggers vs runners are making the rounds again, and it’s caused quite a bit of backlash online. Lots of slower runners feeling offended, lots of faster runners being accused of disliking slower runners. Gotta love the internet.
First off, those PI ads are old, PI paid for it, and the marketing person who approved those ads is probably not approving ads anymore. So don’t hold it against them. In fact, their current campaign is about not being a jerk, which I think is a lesson we can all take to heart.
But as to the backlash. My opinion is this: Run your race. Stay in your box. Don’t pay attention to what others are doing, just do your best. Maybe that’s a 90 minute half marathon, maybe that’s a 3+ hour half marathon. It doesn’t matter. It’s about you.
To me, the issue is what you put in. Let’s say A goes out and trains really hard and run a 2:45 half marathon. (That would be a PR for me, one I’ve gotten close to but never hit. It would be an awesome race for me.) Let’s say B, who regularly finishes a half marathon in 1:45 also runs the race, but this time, because they didn’t bother to train, runs a 2:30 half marathon. Even though B finished faster than A, I think A had a better race because they gave it their all whereas B just showed up.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that sometimes things happen and you don’t get in your training. Injury, life, whatever. And if you want to go out and run a race just to finish but not to necessarily try your best, that’s okay, but you have to be aware of what you’re doing. Nothing bugs me more than hearing someone say “I could walk a half marathon in 3 hours, I don’t know how someone runs one that slow.” That person running a 3 hour marathon may have trained hard and hit a PR. It’s all about what our bodies can do and trying our best.
This is part of the reason that I stepped back on the number of half marathons I was doing. I was tired of just completing. I wanted to be racing. Doesn’t mean I’ll never run another half and not worry about my finishing time, but I don’t want it to become the norm either.
The running community is a great place, but we have to remember that we’re all coming at it from different levels of fitness and ability. Finishing times matter significantly less than what you did in your training to get you to the start line. Who cares if you’re a slow runner?! Do the work and do your best and be proud of where it takes you.