With runDisney race season fast approaching, so many of us are kicking our training into high gear. Whether you are a newbie with your first race coming up or a seasoned veteran, we all worry about pace. Some are trying to be the fastest, some are trying to beat their last time and some are just trying to finish without getting swept. Whatever your goal, if you don’t have the slightest bit of anxiety about pace when going into a race you are either a machine or you’re lying. It’s always somewhere in the back of your mind.
Me, I’m slow. My pace ranges between 12:30 and 14:00. I am a run-walker and I find it’s the best way to keep my endurance up for a long race…it works for me. I’m not built like a runner, but I like the challenge so I do what works best for me. So imagine my feelings when I read this article from 2009 that has been recircling the interwebs lately. Basically, the author and other elite (i.e. fast) runners are questioning whether the act of simply finishing a marathon is worth the title of “marathoner.” This paragraph pretty much sums it up:
“It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours,” said Adrienne Wald, 54, the women’s cross-country coach at the College of New Rochelle, who ran her first marathon in 1984. “It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’ ”
That makes me sad. Just because there are those of us who can’t complete a marathon in 4 hours, doesn’t mean our accomplishment is worth less. We still traveled that same distance on our feet, don’t we deserve a medal too? We’re not trying to win, we just want to finish and be able to celebrate that finish without being judged. Completing a marathon is HARD. Hell, just having the guts to even attempt a marathon is HARD. That hard work should be rewarded, no?
And really, what does our slowness matter to those speedy runners? They start way before us and finish way before us. We are in no way inhibiting them from running their best race possible. Just because we are taking 2 more hours to finish, doesn’t make their accomplishment any less valuable. Are they annoyed that the roads are still closed when they are trying to leave and they get stuck in crazy traffic jams? That MUST be it! Because otherwise why would they even care?!?!
To finish a marathon in 4 hours takes an insane amount of training. Those people are serious rock stars in my eyes and I am in awe of the dedication they put in, and I recognize I will never be among them. I just don’t have that dedication to training, but I do love to push myself and run races. Maybe that’s why I like runDisney so much. There’s no pressure. The elite runners take off in corral A and then the rest of us are there to have fun!
While this article was saddening, I was glad to find a reaction to it by Jeff Galloway who basically negated everything stated there. He works with thousands of runners every year and confirmed that Ms. Wald is in the minority of how most runners feel about long marathon times. Most runners have respect for those who even attempt a marathon because they know how difficult it can be. Jeff goes on to say:
The finishing of a marathon bestows a unique sense of worth that can last for a lifetime – regardless of finish time. We need to salute the efforts of those at the back who did not inherit the genetic material to run on a collegiate cross country team, but who inserted training into busy career and family schedules, improved their health and inspire others.
To me, running is personal. You run as fast or as slow as you can or want to. You are competing against yourself and proving to yourself that you can accomplish what you set your mind to. Just get out there…get moving…walk if you have to. But just remember to NEVER listen to anyone who says that you are too slow and not a “real runner” because no matter what they say, they can’t take that medal or sense of pride away from you!