When I started running it was about putting one foot in front of the other. It was about moving my body, covering the distance, well, actually it was all about not sounding like a breeding hippo, but my objective was to get around the oval without stopping. Then to get to a mile, without stopping, then to run a marathon without stopping.
Initially I was naive about the not stopping. I saw the non-stopping as key to being a runner. If I walked 3 or even 4 steps I saw it as failure, after all, walking is not running is it? The word pace never even entered my universe.
Then when I started to do events like official 10k’s and half marathons, people, mostly non-runners, would ask about my times. They’d reply with things such as ‘Oh, that’s not a bad pace considering.’
The use of the word considering lay heavy on my aching limbs.
Considering what? That I’d run? That I wasn’t Mo Farah? That I was still not being taken in that elusive world we assume is running?
‘How fast should I be running?’ I’d ask people who I identified as ‘official’ runners.
‘As fast as you can?’
Whatever feels comfortable?’
‘It’s your run!’
Cue my comparison obsession.
I was faster than the girl I went to school with but slower than the bloke I worked with and near enough the same pace as the bloke who carries the washing machine around races. What should my pace be? Unlike people’s results, there was no chart or calculator that told me a 5 foot 2 point 8, Taurine female should run at blah, blah, blah pace.
It’s taken me a very long time to accept my pace. And the thing about pace, like so many other things in life, is that it changes. It’s dependent on the weather, your feelings, how much training you’ve done, or not done which is so often my case these days.
It’s taken me nearly 5 years of running to work out that my parkrun pace will be a hell of a lot quicker than my half marathon pace, it’s also taken me various apps, two GPS watches and a Fitbit come to terms with the fact I am very susceptible to obsessive pace disorder not to mention irritable pace syndrome. Which, for someone who claims to just love running for what it is, is ridiculous!
Lisa Jackson, author of Your Pace or Mine says;
‘I don’t feel I have to prove anything when I run, I just want the feeling of being free, free to chat, free to sing, and free to not answer emails!’
And there it is ladies and gentlemen a lesson to us all!
Who cares if someone my age, weight and shoe size can run a faster half than me? Who cares if I don’t get a PB every time? Who cares if my running is someone’s walking pace, what does it really matter? I’ve still run. I’ve still conquered something that years ago seemed impossible and I’ve still earned that accomplishment.
When it comes to running, there is no comparison.
Now, in the words of someone like Ellie Goulding, who’s a keen runner herself FYI; pace out!