Competitor magazine sent up a piece on FB about slow runners. Written by Jeff Guadette, a former NCAA D1 All-American and ace coach, the focus of the article, If You Run Slow, Who Cares?, is on the non-elite runners, so non-elite that they don't really dream of winning races or even age groups. These runners are looking to improve but already understand that they aren't elite 14:00 minute 5K runners.
Jeff makes some great points in the article, some of which I use when I coach. "There's always someone faster . . ." is one that I bet the Asotin JR kids are tired of hearing. Part of the stigma of being slow is the natural tendency for human beings to gain a position of advantage. I have seen the line between running and jogging set at 5:40 per mile, 6:00 per mile, 7:00 per mile, etc. Usually, the pace is set at whatever the speaker can run and everyone slower than him/her/it/whatever is a jogger. 'Cuz runners are cooler, or something, than joggers.
Personally, I don't get too wrapped up in the pace. (editor: 'cuz you're slow?) I worry about how hard I'm working or the kids are working. I derive a great deal more pleasure from a back of the pack runner giving his best effort than a young man with talent that won't work.
One of my epiphanous moments as a runner came when I was still a football player and discus thrower. I had a coach that thought all members of the track team should run five miles a day, including the guy that spun in an eight-foot circle and lobbed artillery into the open fields. Fast forward a year and a half, and the discus thrower is running what will be his fastest 10K, a 35:56.
I finished that race utterly, and happily, exhausted. Eighteen minutes later, I watched a woman, probably in her forties, finish. Writ on her face was all the toil and effort and determination that I had experienced - except she had worked that hard fifty percent longer than I had.
I respected that. Still do.
I don't care if you're slow. Hell, even by my own standards, I'm slow. You're out there trying, and 90 percent of the people of this country are on the couch.
As the Coach of the San Diego Track Club, Paul Greer, used to shout through his megaphone, "You're all winners!"
Run gently, friends - if you know anyone interested in running fiction, please consider recommending Finishing Kick or Trail of Second Chances to them.
Also, if you're a coach and want the team to read Finishing Kick, contact me for a deal on bulk pricing - I can save you some money.