I came across this article today that discusses (in brief) how the new, stricter qualifying times for the Boston marathon contributed to dropping their numbers by a third.
My first thought was Oh wow! People are starting to run for their health! For the enjoyment and not for competition!
Then I finished the article. But I came to a realization.
I read a lot of running blogs, but the bloggers I most identify with are not running competitively, and not usually even considering trying to qualify for Boston.
The bloggers I most identify with – and commiserate, celebrate and concern myself with – run leisurely and enjoyably. We embrace that fat-burning slow-heart-rate pace even though we might also enjoy a few weeks of pushing ourselves hard. We’re not out running 7-minute miles, for the most part, and we don’t flog ourselves after a weekend of over-indulgence.
We savor our long, slow runs with time to chat with our running partners. We enjoy pushing our distances and trying our limits, but we are also moms, sisters, friends and wives. We value our family and social time.
We like beer on Friday nights. And Saturday afternoons. We understand that sometimes, those things conflict with our running goals and we work with and around them.
We make choices that, yes, prevent us from ever reaching Boston qualifying paces.
I’m not meaning to imply that we’re not capable of Boston qualifying times (at least, I won’t claim that on their behalf) – but most of us aren’t willing to commit our lives to that goal because we have so many other things to do! So many other great places to be and friends to spend time with and evenings to enjoy.
That’s not to say we can’t do it – just that it’s not that important to us.
I’m not knocking the runners I read who are running 40+ miles each week; pushing hard during speed workouts and finding new PRs around every corner. Those runners are inspirational and give me a lot of motivation, for sure.
But that’s not who I am nor ever will be.
This summer, I’ll start training for my first marathon. When I shared that with a friend who is also a (much more competitive) runner, she was excited to train with Ginger and I. She wants to run the race with us. When I mentioned that we run around a 10:30 pace for our long runs; that we chat idly and stop to take pics of dolphins and enjoy our mid-run fuel at the water fountain; that we never, ever consider our pace – just the distance … she shook her head. Nope, she won’t be training with us and that’s ok.
We don’t run for “victory,” for winning. This is not us. And goodness, training is hard. Losing seems easy in comparison.
We enjoy running because it fits into our lives the way we want it to fit – and that’s the reason we run. We aren’t competing with anyone but ourselves. We’re challenging ourselves to get our butts out of bed, to add another mile and to maybe push it on a 5k if we’re feeling awesome. But we don’t get too upset when things go wrong, when we don’t make a pace goal or bonk during our long run.
We’ll never qualify for Boston, but I don’t think it’s something we ever, ever considered either. It’s not how we see ourselves running – ever. Neither of us are very competitive, so I’m sure that has something to do with it – but I also think that helps us derive more enjoyment out of just about everything. We never deal with the “I’m not good enough” feelings that come with underperforming.
When we run for ourselves, at our pace and our ability, we always succeed. We always feel good about what we’ve done and are encouraged to run again.
How about you? Are you able to run for the sheer joy of running and self-improvement or do you push yourself hard to get faster, better, stronger? Do you feel like you have to constantly improve or you’re not working hard enough?