A Slow Runner is still a Runner

Mum & Daughter JoggingSlower Runners have more fun!

Are you a slow runner? Well great! You could be getting fitter and healthier than your speedy mates.

I've often heard slower runners beating themselves up about not being able to keep up with others or feeling inadequate or just feeling that others think that they are not 'real' runners. If that's you, stop right there. YOU are a runner. Full stop!

If you run for 30 minutes and cover 2km and if someone else runs for 30 minutes and covers 6km, then great for both of you. You both ran for 30 minutes, you both got a workout.

Over the past 20 years, running has really taken off especially amongst women.  There are also more and more running clubs and races around the world but along with that, there is more and more competition amongst runners of who can be the fastest, who can run the longest and so on.

Running apps like Garmin Connect and Strava are also numerous, with leader boards where you can "show off" and strut your running prowess and achievements. These can be great motivators but only if it doesn't demoralise others.

So what constitutes a slow runner?

A slow runner has no definition! Just because you don't run as fast as someone else, doesn't mean you are any less of a runner. All it means is that they run faster than you and so what?. 

Rather than calling yourself a slow runner, you should think of yourself as doing slow running which has huge benefits as you'll see below.

The main issue is 'your' perspective. Just like many things in life, we tend to get caught up in what others think but in reality we need to think of ourselves and ask ourselves are we happy with what we are achieving and what we are doing. It may surprise you but even the fastest runners have insecurities too and worry that they are not fast enough compared to the next person. All runners have doubts at times, no matter what there speed.

Statistics to make you feel better

Did you know that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults should perform at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity

A 2018 study by the CDC showed that only 55% of Americans aged 25-64, met the federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity. This percentage decreased with age.  In the UK the figures are a bit better at around 60%.  So if you run regularly, even slowly, you are already doing really well.

Benefits of being a slower runner

Whether you have chosen to run slowly or whether you are not able to go any faster, slow running should feel easy and comfortable and you should be easily able to hold a conversation. If you are out of breath and panting, then you are not running slow enough!. 

Faster running comes with a lot of dangers, especially injury, fatigue and burnout. Slower running though has a whole host of super benefits:

  • It allows your bones, joint, ligaments and tendons to adapt slowly and safely to running.
  • It trains your heart and lungs to work more efficiently
  • It allows you to concentrate on your running form and breathing so you can improve it if necessary.
  • It is very sociable as you can run and chat at the same time.
  • It increases the number and size of mitochondria thus improving  your energy and oxygen stores. Mitochondria exist in all our bodily cells and are considered as the “powerhouse of the cell”.  They are primarily responsible for converting the air that we breathe and the food that we eat into energy.
  • You are far less likely to get injured.
  • If weight loss is your goal, then running slower means that you can run longer which could mean burning more calories. Not only that, a faster run tends to use your body glycogen for fuel but a slow run tends to use your body fat for fuel.

If you are not sure if you are running slow enough to get the benefits, then have a look at MAF training. This is basically heart rate training which I guarantee will have you running at the right speed for you. 

So next time as you head out the door and start to feel intimidated or inadequate, knock those "slow runner" thoughts out of your mind and just think about how strong you are and all the benefits that you are gaining.

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