The lovely Elle has allowed me a little space on her blog to talk about how much I love cake. Just kidding, I’m sharing my thoughts about running, slowly, whatever ‘slow’ means to you…
After running for several years, covering a few half marathon’s, countless 6am run’s and falling in love with 5km distance, I started to wonder at what point I’d become entirely obsessed with pace? I think it was last year, I’d trained relentlessly for a new half marathon PB and it wasn’t meant to be. The track was tiny and we ended up walking most of the first 1.5miles due to congestion, the temperature soared and I finished the race with bleeding chaffing thighs and a face like thunder.
I wanted to stick my middle finger up at running. I cursed my body and failed to celebrate the fact I’d completed a trail half marathon and I felt like my best choice was to take a break…
Last month I attended a small female only trail running session, I was consistently last and was being lapped by everyone. You may think ‘that must have been awful and so demoralising?’ Not at all actually; because I’d changed my mindset, I loved running on steeper ground than ever before, I was happy with my pace and delighted just to be part of the event…
Let me explain what changed, I stopped apologising for being slow, I started being kinder to my body and as a result, I started really enjoying running again.
My running journey started when I was 25, I gently eased into run/walking and ran my first ‘Race For Life’ in 42 minutes. The following year I managed 34 minutes and felt completely elated, I wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered about my time, mostly I’d run a 12minute mile and revel in the delight of being able to run.
Gradually I became a little faster, I started chasing a 30 minute 5km and after 10 months of training and the help of a pacer, I hit 30.48 and I nearly cried with delight when I saw that time. Fast forward a few more years, I was spending more time on social media, I was in a bad place with my body and I felt like I was constantly being judged on my times.
I then hit a 25.10 5km at my local park run, I stared at my watch with a strange mix of joy and anger. Part of me questioned why I hadn’t pushed more? I had to beat that time, it wasn’t good enough, and I’d forgotten why I started running. I’d forgotten that running was meant to be fun, that it was a way to see the world and chase the incredible runners high that we all should believe in.
I think it’s easy to forget that sometimes it takes a little courage and effort for some of us to enter a race, or even attend park run. We are so quick to praise the top 10, why do we forget about the last 10? They ran the same distance, it might have taken even more effort and it might even have been a personal best. For me, running is freedom, it’s my own personal time, it’s about embracing the simple fact my body is able to run and feeling good in every step, no matter how fast or slow. Pace simply cannot define the enjoyment of running or the way it should make you feel. I revel in moments when I complete a run and feel all uplifted and not downtrodden because of the time on my watch.
I stopped posting my running times and distances so frequently on social media, mainly due to the fact I felt that I was constantly comparing myself and losing what running meant to me. One run I wish I shouted about was the fact that my friend and set off into the darkness at 5.50am and ran 7.1 miles in 1.30 (12.40mm). What was so important about this run? I’ve never felt 90 minutes pass by so fast on a run, I didn’t check my watch, I didn’t feel like I would crash and burn, I just felt invigorated.
If you’re based in London and looking for a running group with a max pace of 10mm, I noticed that Lululemon is hosting a weekly run club from their Regents Street Store. This delighted me due to the fact many people I know dread turning up for group runs only to find the minimum pace is a ‘steady 9mm’. As strange as this may sound, when I’m relaxed and focused I can run this pace, put me under pressure or in a situation that involves conversation? No thanks! I just want to tell you about my new trainers and my cat whilst we run and that requires a slow, social pace.
I think we need to champion slow runners the same way we do fast runners, I lost my love for running due to the fact I let comparison steal my joy – Don’t make my mistake, own your pace, own your PB, own every mile, if you run, then that makes you a ‘runner’ and your pace does not come into it.
Now I’ve said that, pop on your trainers and go run, it doesn’t matter is it’s a 14-minute mile or a 9-minute mile and if you’ve set a new personal best for running happily? Let me know so I can give you a virtual high five!
Katie is a 31 year old food, fitness and lifestyle blogger from Northampton. When she’s not eating, she’s working out, stalking Instagram, talking to her cat and/or planning her next meal. She likes to run, hates staring at her Garmin and enjoys buying new trainers.