When I was a kid, I was the fastest in my second grade class. I ran the 50 yard dash in 7.2 seconds, better than everyone else. In that effort I tumbled, fell and broke my collar bone, and cried for hours after, but the lesson I took from that race was that I was fast.
But I’m not fast any more. While I do end up in the top 15-20% of finishers in a marathon, I don’t feel fast. I feel average.
And lately, I’ve been feeling slow. It’s been difficult to run a sub-7:30 min mile. I can’t remember the last time I ran a sub 7:00 min mile. I often hear the question in my head, Why am I slow?
There are a number of reasons that runners get slow.
1. Don’t run enough miles. If you don’t run a certain minimum amount of miles you will naturally get slower. Your muscles degrade, your endurance lessens, and running becomes more painful. This doesn’t explain why I’m slow since I run 1400+ miles a year.
2. Don’t run often enough. Taking time off to rest can help most runners but take too much time off and you’ll start to degrade in the same way as described for runners who do not run enough miles. This isn’t my problem either as I run every day.
3. Run too much. When you run you naturally wear down the muscles. They need time and rest to heal and become stronger. However, when you run too much your body is unable to completely heal and that will make you slower. This could be one reason I’m slower. Not enough rest.
4. Practice running slow. Long, slow running trains you to be a great long slow runner. If you never run fast, it gets harder and harder to run fast. To be a fast runner, you have to run fast. This is my problem. I almost never run fast. All of my runs are done at about the same speed and that speed is not fast.
So why do I continue to run slow even though I know you need to run faster to get faster?
Because running hurts. And fast running hurts even more!
It’s been extremely difficult for me to get past this pain so instead of doing weekly sprints and tempo runs, I go out and do the less painful easy long run. And I accept that by doing that I’ll remain a slow runner.
I’m ok with that. At least for now.
If I want to get faster I know what I have to do. But I also know…it’s gonna hurt.