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Pace vs. effort

What is most often misunderstood about those of us who are struggling to reach the front of the back of the pack is that we really are trying. We really are, at whatever our pace, doing the best we can. Some runners, and even some well-meaning non-runners, interpret our position in the back of the pack as a measure of our lack of effort. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We - the few, the proud, the - very often train as much or more than faster runners. At a blistering twelve (or even ten) minute pace, a fifteen mile week represents a major time commitment. In order to prepare for a race, I do speed work and tempo runs and I do long slow runs - I just do them very slowly!

It's not a matter of trying harder. And it's not a matter of training longer. It's not a matter of lack of motivation, either, it's just a matter of speed. A friend of mine - a fast runner - put it succinctly when I asked him what he thought the limiting factor in my running future was. His answer was as insightful as it was concise. "Maybe you're just slow!"

Slow I may be. If you are new to running, you may be, too. But by accepting the challenges presented to you by your choices and your genetics, you can work at becoming the best runner you know how to be. Every day gives you an opportunity to improve. With every run, you can try to be better. Not just a better runner, but a better person.

Now is the time to give in to your running instinct. Today is the day to let go of all the unrealistic expectations and uncover the primal joy in running. It may be that, like me, the more you run, the more connected you will feel to your running ancestors.

Before you know it, there will be times when you will imagine yourself running free across the plains or silently through the forest. You'll be able to imagine yourself being chosen to deliver the news of some important victory to a distant people. You will see yourself running strong and well.

As true as it is that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so, too, does the journey to a new life as a runner. Every day that you run, you are one step closer to wherever you're headed.


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