Speed: It isn't all it's cracked up to be

Have you ever wanted to go out for a run with somebody and decided against it because you’re, “not as fast as them?” Perhaps you’ve really wanted to go out with a group of people or join a running club but you’ve chosen against it because you’ve decided that “I can’t keep up with them,” or “They’re in a different league to me?” Sadly you are not alone and it is a disturbingly common sentiment. The real tragedy of it is you are that good.

I saw a good quote that said ”your value as a runner is not defined by the clock.” It’s an ideology that is outdated, antiquated and obsolete. Unless you’re an Olympic sprinter, or in a similar profession, this quote rings very true. While we’re on our soapbox you’re also not defined by:

  1. The distance you run;

  2. Whether you run non-stop or utilise the Galloway method;

  3. The places you run;

  4. The clothes you wear;

  5. The colour of your favourite teapot, cat person or dog person… you get the point.

These days running is such an inclusive sport. Sure, it hasn’t always been but once upon a time we washed our clothes by slapping them against rocks ... then a smart human invented a washing machine. My point is that things evolve and as Thomas Edison once said, “there’s a way to do it better – find it.” So, let’s find a new way, a better way, to measure oneself as a runner (Note: We speak from a running perspective throughout this article but it is prudent to mention now that these principles can be universally applied to many different sports that you are participating in).

So what does define my value as a runner?


Do you get up early and put the running shoes on before work when the rest of the house is still asleep? Or do you put aside the stresses and exhaustion from a hard day and catch a running session in the afternoon? Would you frame a family member for a heinous crime you committed if it meant that you could go out for a run instead of missing out because of the sentencing hearing? If you said yes to one or more of these then give yourself a giant pat on the back because consistency is the building block to progressive improvement … unless you did the whole frame a family member thing.

Do you motivate and inspire others?

Have you ever encouraged somebody to get out there and give it a go? Have you ever lifted somebody’s spirits when they’ve needed it the most? How about yelled out words of encouragement, other than “go get him officer!” You don’t always know who is watching and the chances are that you’re inspiring someone who wishes they’re able to do what you’re doing. If this sounds like you, then you are a fantastic runner.

"Your value as a runner is not defined by the clock."

Personal Best (PB) smasher

I know I said that speed isn’t the best indicator of your worth as a runner (and I stand by that) but I do make an exception when you’re racing against yourself. The chances are at some stage, you have beaten your own personal best time and that makes you a champion in our books. That said, let’s think outside the box even further for a moment ... PBs don’t have to be solely for finish times. Try beating your personal best at handing out high fives (air fives thanks to COVID) or the amount of friends you convince to join you for a jaunt.

Do you still run for the same reason you started?

Maybe you started to manage your stress levels, like I did or perhaps to lose weight or gain the same fitness you had when you were younger. Perhaps it was even because your friends started running and you wanted to join in on the fun? So often we start for very simple reasons and then the competitive beast pops his head up and pretty soon what started out as fun becomes frustrating and disappointing. Staying true to the reason you first put on a pair of running shoes is a legendary move, even if it only comes out every so often. We go and workout for fun, and if we don’t, we should.

Running friends

Most of us have at least a few really good running friends and if you don’t, you will. It’s inevitable. You can’t imagine life without these people to whom you can tell anything and everything whilst pounding out a few kms. If not for running, you might not have met them and that is just too unbearable to think about. If you have people in your running life that act and feel like somewhat of a family then how could you ever call yourself anything but a winner?

Are you enjoying a happier, healthier way of living?

Ever since you made the decision to start running your fitness has most likely improved, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Running will start to benefit you from just 5-10 minutes into your run at a moderate pace. Running can reduce the risk of a heart attack, cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease. It can also reduce stress and improve sleep. If that doesn’t scream gold medal, what does?

Has running taken you places you would never have seen?

Sunsets, sunrises, picturesque landscapes and clouds that look like bunnies riding bicycles are but some of the awesome things you might of seen instead of sitting on the couch watching an old Justin Beiber concert wondering why his hair looks like a bad 70s toddler's cut. Additionally, there are wonderful moments like watching friends crossing finishing lines and collapsing in happy tears, people giving up their weekends to volunteer for people they’ve never met, spectators standing for hours clapping as everyone passes and so many more. #Winning.

There are so many ways to measure yourself as a runner that don’t involve a stopwatch. It’s time to start ignoring all of those voices in your head that devalue your worth. All it takes is a little adjustment on how you view it.

If you are concentrating on speed work and aren’t seeing the results you’re hoping for, don’t allow yourself to get discouraged because it’s only a very small part of the big picture. Take the time to look at who you are as a runner, what the sport has given to you and your lifestyle and how much you enjoy it.

Happy running!

- Super Awesome Running Coach Craig.

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