Are You Too Slow To Be A Runner?

Previously I have posted Do You Look Like a Runner? Nothing I said in there was particularly profound, but it really hit home with a lot of people, and I can see why. This is still a big issue for almost all of us. Even those of us who are confident with our bodies for the most part, still have some areas that that little demon comes to to your shoulder to talk negatively about, but it was nice that so many people shared, and I hope it helped you to see that if you run, you ARE a runner.

However, I have a feeling that some of you still do not believe me when I say you are a runner….or actually any other athlete for that matter. You are not a swimmer, not fit, not strong. You can insert your own sport there. So today, I wanted to focus on a different aspect of doubt in runners; too slow.

Runners Connect Cam 2015 #2

This was another topic we discussed at the Runners Connect and within the Running4Real Community. The body image discussion soon turned into a “too slow” conversation, and it shocked me how interlinked these two are. I asked the group of 22 runners who was worried about coming to camp as they thought they would be the “slowest”. About 15 of them raised their hands.

I could not believe it, 15/22 people were nervous about going to a camp because they thought they would be too slow.

We need to change this.

What does being “slow” mean anyway?


You are out there doing it!

I know what you are thinking. When you are out running, you think people are looking at you running, and thinking “damn, that girl/guy is running SO slow”.

Trust me, I have those thoughts sometimes too. When I am cooling down from a hard workout, or when I am on my easy day where I promised myself I would allow my body to recover, I have to battle that voice in my head that is telling me everyone is laughing at me, thinking I am running too slow. Yes, I mean that! Remember running is very relative.

Or when I see someone up ahead of me. I have to fight the urge not to run them down to prove to them that I am not too slow.

Or how about this one; when elites run together, almost every run, one of the group will apologize for slowing the others down. The feature image of this post was me cooling down with my friend Ali Tuliamuk-Bolton after the Bix 7 Mile, I was worried I was slowing her down….as we ran 9 minute miles for our cool down (compare that to her 5 minute per mile race pace!).

Runners are always concerned with others. That they are thinking about how slow we are running. And what better way to learn how to ignore those thoughts than with a Beginner Runner Podcast Series? Where it can give you endless resources on what kind of runner you want to be with all of the tips and tricks in between.

Well I am here to tell you that no one really cares how slow (or fast) you are running.

No, really.

Think about it. When you drive past a runner. What do you think to yourself?

“I wish I was running” or “Good for you getting out there doing it!” or “YAY! Runner!”

Soemthing along those lines right?

Most people would end up driving away from that runner wishing they were running! I dont know about you, but even when I have had a long run that morning, when I see someone running, I wish I was out there. We know how good it feels when you get that runners high, and for that reason, we are jealous….and besides, you never look as bad as you feel, so it looks more fun than sometimes it is 🙂

So keep that in mind next time you feel too slow. Most of us worry about what we look like to others, but to be honest, most non-runners do not even notice you running (unless they are staring at your butt :P), and those that do, are wishing they were out running themselves!

You are out there doing it, and that makes YOU a runner. Yes, YOU! I will say it again. If you are out there running, does not matter what pace, YOU ARE A RUNNER, and you should be proud of that fact! It does not matter if you are running 3 miles or 30 miles, running is still putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation, and you are doing it. That makes you a runner!

That is the wonderful thing about running. It is so simple. It is putting one foot in front of the other. It does not judge, it does not compare, we each have our own stories, our own journeys that make us who we are, and listening to others running journeys is so inspiring. We have the best community, and we have the best camaraderie. Just go to the finishing straight of a race if you do not know what I mean.

That is what makes running so special, and that is why you should never feel like you are too slow, like that cheesy quote says, you are already lapping people on the couch 🙂


Be honest. Have you ever thought you were too slow? Why do you think we do this to ourselves?

Ps. If you need more reasons to keep your runs slow, read these articles:

How Do Easy Runs Help You Race Faster (and what exactly your easy pace should be)

Do You Think You Run Slow? Why Being “Slow” Doesn’t Matter

How Running 80% Easy Could Make You 23% Faster

P.P.S Check out my friend Griff’s blog about training for his first marathon. You love reading about elites on their journey, I think you are gonna love this post!

body image, slow runner

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  • Another great one Tina and something SO many people struggle with. If you read a lot of running blogs I think it’s easier to feel slow but everyone needs to remember that, even though it seems like everyone is running, so few people do!!! And you’re so right about when you see someone out there running – my first thought is “I wish I was running!” followed by “I wonder how far they’re going?” It’s NEVER – wow, they look slow. Never.

  • I know a lot of people who struggle with this and still can’t call themselves runners…or they wait until they’ve done a marathon to call themselves runners! We have such a strong, supportive group around here though, so we try to take care of those people immediately!

  • I think that everyone needs to read this post and then my post about the importance (or not) of the BQ. We are so damn competitive nowadays, and there is so much information and exposure out there with regards to who is doing what. EYES ON YOUR OWN DAMN PAPER!!!

  • I think we all struggle with this feeling sometimes! Before I got “serious” about running, I never called myself a runner. It’s silly, we’re all running, like you say!

  • Great post Tina! Also, I’ve started listening to the Runner’s Connect post casts while I run and it’s been fun to “get to know you better” just by hearing your voice as you do the interviews! You’re great at them btw. I love how you really listen to what the person you’re interview is saying and piggy back off their comments instead of just moving onto the next question. Nice job!

  • I love this Tina. Running does not judge and this is an awesome reminder of that. Thanks for sharing.

  • Guilty – I always apologize for running to slow or keeping the group from moving at a normal pace. It’s instinctive and it is probably, why I am happy running alone or with someone equally slow. 🙂 I need to work on this.

  • At a guess, I think where some of the “too slow” mentality comes from is: it seems like about once a year, somebody in a major newspaper publishes an article about how the american marathon has gotten too slow, and how it’s become a social event rather than a race that “respects the distance”. I know in my own case (a 55-year old who struggles sometimes to make 10-minute per mile pace) that it seems like an awful lot of runners are faster than I am. However, getting older comes with one “benefit”: I don’t really give a damn what other people think, I’m still going to go run as long as it makes me feel good! 😉

  • I am a new reader and I have to say I love your podcasts, lady! Keep up the fantastic work. They really keep me distracted on my long runs. 🙂 We are all on our own journeys no matter if you’re slow or fast or elite or whatever you want to label yourself. Some days I’m taking it easy, other days I feel like I’m flying, all that matters is I’m out there doing it.

  • SO great! I live at the top of this brutally long hill. It’s fun going down but an absolute slogfest going back up. It’s messy. It’s not pretty. And the whole time I’m running up that thing, there are cars whizzing past me and I feel like carrying a sign that says “THIS IS A STEEP HILL BUT YOUR CAR CAN’T FEEL IT.” But I don’t. Because ultimately, I don’t care. I just turn Sam Smith up louder in my ears and do a little jig on my way up.

  • YES to all of this, so true!! Once I was on a recovery run and I saw a friend (who didn’t see me) and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want her to see me going “too slow.” Totally crazy and dumb, but it’s true that everyone thinks it. And SOO true that we all wish we the ones out there running! Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • one of the first things new members always say on a run is I am really slow. WE are just happy to be out there and running and not caring about pace. I try really hard to convince them of just this fact!

  • Man, this article made me so excited to get out there and run again! Thanks for posting this 🙂

  • YES!! YES to all of this! After coming back from a brutal injury, I am happy and joyful. Happy to be RUNNING again.
    I’ve said this before, but I will never take running for granted. It’s a true gift to be able to run. Yes, I am slogging my way along, getting the feel of running again. Not doing too much too fast… and at the end of the day I’m RUNNING!! Woo hoo!! We are all runners and it’s a beautiful thing 🙂

  • Thanks for saying this Tina, it’s nice to hear someone at your level put this out there as it carries a lot more weight. I’ve come across a number of articles in the sports section of our national newspaper from a journalist who I actually really like but who thinks that people who aren’t capable of running above a certain level shouldn’t partake in running events, as they bring down the standard. I was really offended by his views as I love running, no matter how slow I go, because of how it makes me feel. If you’re out there running, you’re a runner!

  • You are right that whenever I see another runner — as often happens when I’m walking the dogs, for instance — I do think I wish I was running. Even if it’s not a running day. Even if I already ran.

    I am a slow runner, there’s really no denying it (my best half is 2:46), but I have no problems calling myself a runner. And most of the time it never crosses my mind that other people might be judging me on my run (well, not now, when I first began running it was a different story).

    But speed does matter to me. I’m never going to be fast, probably not even average, but I would like to get faster (and I do the work, the tempo runs, the hill repeats, the track work yada yada). And it matters because it’s not easy to find people who run my pace and I enjoy running in a group.

    Is it wrong that I always look at the person who finishes after me & feel good because they’re usually a lot younger? 🙂

  • I never thought I was a slow runner until I started blogging. It seems like everyone who I read is either an elite, local elite, or BQ runner. I would need to take over an hour off my marathon PR to BQ, and most people I follow could do that in training! It definitely made me feel bad about myself for a while, but I think it’s great to be able to show how an average runner trains and races. Plus, maybe one day I will get that BQ! Thank you for sharing this Tina..I love hearing your perspective and hearing that even an elite runner can be inspired by us “slow runners” 😉

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    September 27, 2015 6:49 am

    It’s so important to focus on ourselves and doing the best we can rather than comparing ourselves to others or labeling runners as “slow” or “”fast”. At the end of the day we are all out there running and doing what we enjoy!!

  • This is so true. I love it. Also and completely unrelated…Runners Connect has a camp??!? I’ve been reading tons of info from Runners Connect since you emailed me and I’m super impressed!

  • Wow, this is awesome! I just started running in December and even though I feel slow and my runs sometimes feel brutal, I still get out there and still push myself. And I still won’t call myself “A Runner”… But yeah, dang, every time I am driving and I see someone running, I always say to myself, “man, I need to get out there and do that too!” Good post!! 🙂

  • I have never not felt like a runner even though I always run and feel slow. I’ve battled lots of surgeries, sickness, and injuries (most not running related except for the current one). It’s hard to get back out there. I was slow, very slow and still very slow. But I have multiple people leave me (before I have said, “Just go,” with comments of I’m too slow.” I’ve had people not want to run with me, because they are working on their PRs or speed stuff and I’m too slow and all I really want is to run with someone to push myself faster. As a lot of people, running alone does make it easier for you to go slower. So, I want to go with faster people to get to the next level. And then you hear, “Well, you are too slow. I need to focus on this blah blah blah,” it really breaks your confidence. For a long time, I was afraid to run with people and just ran by myself. Now, with that said, I’ve had people run with me knowing I’m slow and stay with me to help me. My most recent marathon was run with an IT band issue and a friend that stuck by my side until the end and we finished it in 6 hours, 23 minutes. It was both our worst times and for her, really worse (last time, we ran she ran under 5 hours). And I’ve had those same friends that turned me down go out with me later and help me (mainly because they weren’t focused on something.

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