Recently, there's been quite the discussion going on in the comments of this blog about what a slow runner I am. Some readers think I'm wasting my time signing up for a half-marathon in November since I'm not running a seven-minute mile (I'm more around 11 minutes).
Sure, that's not breaking any land-speed records, but it's what pace my body naturally lands at when running.
The reason I'm bringing this up is because discussions like this are what always kept me from running or even attempting to run in the past. Let me explain ...
When I started out to become more active and document my journey on this blog, I knew there were certain things I'd have to accept.
I knew I'd have to deal with sometimes (but not always) negative comments from people. It just comes with the territory of putting yourself on display in a public forum. Plus, I've made new (real-life) friends through this blog, and have gotten invaluable support from my readers, Twitter buddies, and social networks.
I knew I'd also have to learn to stop competing with everyone around me and focus on competing against myself instead. In the past, I never wanted to even attempt to run simply because I felt I wasn't graceful or fast enough to remotely look like what I thought runners looked like. I have always pictured runners as tall, beanpole-esque, graceful creatures who seem to gallop along like gazelles and not break a sweat while running. Luckily, after pounding the pavement for a while now and seeing other people out there logging their miles, I've found that other people look just like I do: red-faced and sweaty. Gazelles they are not. And neither am I. I'm OK with that.
When I first started running I made a decision to not focus on speed or time simply because I know if I made a time or pace goal and didn't hit it I would be so disappointed with myself that I would simply give up even trying to run. I don't want to give up. I want to keep going. I want to log more miles. I want to keep pushing myself. I made a goal to simply finish every run I set out on. If I have to slow down to finish that run, so be it. That continues to be my goal as I set out to train for a half-marathon. That is not to say that I don't want to push myself. Every time I run, I try to improve in *some* way. But is running a seven-minute mile the end-all-be-all for me? Not right now it's not. Will this goal of mine change as I improve? I'm sure it will.
For me, what's great about running (even running at the pace I do) is that I continue to surprise myself. I'm pounding out mileage now that I didn't even think I was capable of a year ago when I started down this road. I'm healthier and stronger than I was, too.
So, if you ever see a five-foot tall woman with a bright red face, breathing heavy and running with less grace than an elephant trying to tap dance, please wave. That's me. I'll see you at the finish line once I get there.
What about you? What are your goals? Share your stories with me by writing a comment or using the submit form at right.