A blog by runners. For runners.

Am I too slow to be a runner?


“Have you run Boston?”

It seems like an innocent question. In fact, it’s one of the first questions people ask me after I tell them I’m a runner.

I always reply the same way, “no, I haven’t, but I’d love to.”

But what I’m really thinking is, “no, I’m way too slow and will probably never be able to run Boston.” And then I beat myself up for being so “slow”.

Speed: the taboo running topic
When I first moved to my current town, a new friend invited me to join her running group. I awkwardly stumbled on my words, dodged eye contact, and nervously asked her the question, “how fast are you?”

I hate asking this – I don’t want to seem like an elitist runner who only wants to run with people my pace. But that’s the truth, isn’t it? I’ve been left in my speedy friends’ dust before, and I’ve also injured myself from changing my stride to run too slow with others. So, it’s always my goal to find someone around my pace.

It turns out I had nothing to be nervous about. The running group she was a part of was big – it had a 6:00 minute/mile group and a 13:00 minute/mile group and everything in between. Most larger running groups are probably similar.

Still, I’m sure the “fear of being too slow” has stopped many of us from joining running groups – or even racing. I’ve even heard plenty of runners hesitate to call themselves runners because they think they’re too slow. “Oh, the race was slow for me so I didn’t really “run” the marathon.” “I’m probably the slowest person out here, I just jog.” “I’m not a runner because I use the run/walk method.”

The definition of a runner
Here’s the thing I’ve learned: we’re all runners. I don’t care how “slow” you run or how many walk breaks you need. If you see yourself as a runner, you’re a runner.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary agrees with me. The definition of run: “to move with your legs at a speed that is faster than walking.” So, if you get from point A to point B on foot at a pace that’s faster than a walk, you ran it.

As far as running vs. jogging, I wish we could eliminate the word “jog” from the dictionary all together. Jogging simply means “to run at a slow trot”. So, jogging is running. Some people say jogging starts once you drop below an 8:00, 9:00, or 10:00 minute/ mile pace, but I’d disagree. Speed is completely relative so a slow trot for you is different than a slow trot for someone else.

We challenge each of you to own your speed. Be proud of it. It doesn’t matter if it takes you 2:30 hours or 6:30 hours to run a marathon – you’re still a marathoner. If you’re exhausted after races, if you love setting PRs, if you’re frustrated by bad runs, and if you know what it means to “bonk”, “negative split”, and “chafe”, you’re a runner (if you don’t that’s OK – check out our running dictionary).

There will always be runners faster than you and runners slower than you, no matter where in the pack you fall. There will always be someone beside you, too. That’s the beauty of our sport.

We’re all runners, even if it takes a while to get to point B.

Written by Jen Matz.