In my life, I am an analyzer and a learner. I am constantly taking in what is being said and done around me. I would like to say I use these moments to grow in who I am learning to become every day. I admit, though, that sometimes the lesson takes a little longer to sink in than other times.
This weekend I took in a lesson in a grandiose way and it is now sitting in me and stirring thoughts that must be shared, even if it is just my way to process and apply them. Although perhaps a reader may take something away from it as well. This is about running, so excuse me while I dive into that world. It can apply in many areas of life, though.
This weekend I got the opportunity to run the Marine Corp Semper 5ive race with a good friend and mentor of mine. While it was only 5 miles, and still not quite the distance I like to do, it was a race I learned a lot about myself and about running, in general.
I have always struggled with saying I am slow. I have been running since 2008 and I have been in the same zone for all of those years. 2010 was my PR race, and even that was not a record breaking time in my age bracket by any means. So I tend to begin my conversations with people who are also runners by saying I am Slow. Even though I tell the others around me who discuss their own abilities that time isn't important, it's that you are out there, I have not applied that to my own self very well.
I also know what it takes to get faster. If I am going to "complain" bout being slow, that means I likely want to change that. But if I want to change it, I need to put in the work to fix it. That means speed work or hill training. I KNOW all of this because I have a wealth of knowledge around me in the running industry. I know all of this because I have seen it. But every time I have set out to do this, something tends to interrupt it... or, let's be honest... I just don't like doing it. I get so frustrated by not making goals or I get so distracted by my watch that I lose the enjoyment from the run. So then I quit doing it, because I want to enjoy my runs. But I will find myself a few weeks later saying once again how slow I am. It's a silly cycle I take myself through, but I answer my own issue by knowing that trying to get faster actually takes the enjoyment out of the run for me.
I also feel the need to prove myself to others. Other runners, probably. But even non-runners. I have had it said to me multiple times that I've been running now for this long, I ought to be faster. And I took those words to heart and somehow told myself I wasn't good enough and I needed to push myself.
But the reality is, I am pushing myself. I run about an 11:10 mile. That is my pace. Some people are natural runners. I love the sport, but I do have to work at it.
Who determines what fast or slow is, anyway? What I think is fast may be slow to that person running that 8 min mile. My slow may be fast to the new runner who is just starting out. So where do I even get this idea of fast or slow? Isn't the point to be healthy ? Isn't the point to have a hobby I enjoy? Isn't the point to yes, push myself to being a better me? yes. But that push might just be a consistent 11 minute mile.
I wish that we, as runners, would stop saying so much "What was your time?" And start focusing more on "Did you have a good time?" The focus gets to be so much on that finish time that I get caught up in it and almost am embarrassed to say what my finish times are because 1. They aren't improving from 8 years ago that much and 2. I somehow feel I need to prove myself to the other runners around me.
Listen, I know a lot about running because I have taught myself, I have learned from great runners around me, I have read about it and I have tried out different methods. And the bottom line is... when I am plain and simple out there doing it, I do enjoy it. And when I enjoy it, it's freeing. But when I get caught up in my times, I lose a little bit of the excitement because somehow I feel like I am not good enough.
This is a me issue. I know this. And it was kind of in my face this weekend in a good way. And I am determined to work on this and fix it. The competitive part of me will probably always fight the desire to just get faster. But being a healthier me does not have to mean faster. If you watch a finish line sometime, you will see that people twice my size my finish ahead of me. It isn't about size. In the running world, that is one aspect I love. Size doesn't define speed.
I am not used to having a person faster than I am be running a race with me. While there could have been an intimidating factor to it, I really enjoyed it. And while I found myself saying out loud "I told you I was slow" I later was humbled by the fact I'd said those words, but knew I hadn't done anything to try to be faster. Honestly, my pace for me is a beautiful pace. So I just need to let it be. I'm not out to win a race, just to be the best me I can be.
So I am going to work on eliminating the words "I am slow" from my vocabulary. I am going to work on asking my runner friends more if they had a good time rather than what their time was. And I am going to work on applying what I know to what I do.
This applies to all areas of life, too. Honestly, how many times do we learn something or know what we need to do, but we don't apply it? Because it takes work. And then we complain about a lack of results.
I am very thankful for having an honest friend/mentor in my life who will encourage me in my abilities but also humble me and be brutally honest with me, too. That is a rare person to have around.
So, I am not slow. I am perfectly me at my pace. I will continue to push myself to be healthy. But I will just enjoy the sport rather than beat my own self esteem up by continuously repeating the negative words others have said to me.
By the way, I had an amazing time running the Marine Corp Semper 5ive Race. They do an amazing job. The marines take much pride in what they do and who they are, and I enjoyed taking all of that in this weekend. I enjoyed the 5 mile course, too. Yes, I pushed myself a little bit through the way, but I felt great at the end. I had fun. I had fun with my friend. I learned new things about myself. I found ways I can improve my running by being with and listening to my friend/mentor. I saw a new city and took in some good memories. I gained a new excitement for running because I learned. And I ran the race and finished well.