Finish lines not finish times!

I’m quite a positive person. Before I discovered running I was quite the opposite. A kind of human grumpy cat. A little rain cloud of gloom. One of my biggest issues was running in a group. I’m more Eric the Eel than Mo Farrah and, more than once I’ve made excuses not to run as I was fed up of being at the tail end.

These days I don’t give a hoot. My mantra is ‘finish lines not finish times’ although I do like a cheeky PB now and then.

It takes time and a shift of mindset to get to that point though and it’s not easy. Earlier this week I saw a post, on a popular social media site, which made my blood boil. It was titled ‘The worst thing about being slow runner is………’ and encouraged people to add their own thoughts to it. What made me really sad is that there were so many replies. Then I looked on the internet and saw T-shirts plastered in various ‘I’m slow’ phrases allowing us to make fun of our more moderate pace.

Why are we berating ourselves for being less speedy than the front runners? I decided to take a stand and celebrate the more leisurely runners like myself. So here it is………..

The best things about running near the back of the pack are……..

1. Value for money. I do love a good organised run. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m all about the reward whether it be bling, a T-shirt or a bar of chocolate. But, these speedy runners are missing out on a trick. Think of a 10K. Lots of people I know are aiming for a finishing time between of under an hour. Me? I just want to finish. If you work out the cost of the entry fee per minute of running, then I’m getting amazing value!

2. You get more time in bed. Think of all those poor speedy runners getting up super early to get the best spot at the starting line. Me, I just rock up with minutes to spare or arrive super early and get time to soak up the atmosphere, meet new people and not have to stress about how long the toilet queue is.

3. Generally, there are less people towards the tail end so you get more solo photos. Do you really want to be obscured by someone’s arm in the speedy bunch? While my race photos are not pretty, (most of them are pretty awful but I still love them) I’m nearly always the only person in them. You won’t find me ordering photos of someone else just to have an image of my leg for posterity.

4. Tail runners and sweepers. This is probably my favourite bit. I love tail runners. These people just ooze gorgeousness. Yes, at any other race they will be speeding past you but for today they are here to make sure you succeed. They tell you to keep going, they can counteract any argument you can think of for giving up, they keep you going and they make sure that you are never last. How can you fail to love them? I spent weeks psyching myself to join my first parkrun. It just happened to be Halloween and the tail runner that day was a zombie bride. If I could have snogged her at the end, I would have. I can honestly say that I never would have finished if it wasn’t for her. We had never met before that day and I suspect she will never really know the profound impact she has had (unless she reads this of course. Love you Esther). She’s now a regular running buddy and partner in crime.

5. Camaraderie. Unless you’ve been at the back you will never fully understand the bonds that are made. Each of us know how hard we are working; how difficult we are finding the run and how close we are to giving up. We help each other out. It may just be a smile, a word of encouragement or (my personal favourite) shouting ‘you’re awesome’ or something similar to everyone you see. There is no competition.

There are so many more but I’m saving them for the next instalment. In the meantime, feel free to find me on Instagram and add your own positives underweightandundertall

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