Slow is a four-letter word.

Life Lessons found in the run.

In my life, I am an analyzer and a learner. I am constantly taking in what is being said and done around me. I would like to say I use these moments to grow in who I am learning to become every day. I admit, though, that sometimes the lesson takes a little longer to sink in than other times.

There is a lesson which running has taught me, but I have to repeatedly remind myself of the wisdom. I’m in the process of trying to take my own advice and re-learn a valuable point from which I believe we could all find tidbits of wisdom.

For the first time in many months, I endeavored back into the “race” world, and wasn’t just endeavoring on a training run or time at the gym. Mind you, it was a 5K, and that’s a ways from my favorite distance of the Half Marathon. Nonetheless, at times in life, we get interrupted and have to start over again. That was me this weekend. I ran the Knoxville 5K. And true to my history of participating in running events, I always walk away stronger, learning about myself.

Slow is a four-letter word.

I have always struggled with saying (out loud) that I am slow. I have been running since 2008 and currently I am at square one and pretty much starting over as if I have never completed a race. 2010 was my PR race, and even that was not record breaking by any means. Therefore, I tend to begin my conversations by saying I am slow. Even though I tell the others around me who discuss their own abilities that time isn’t important, it’s that you are out there, (which is so very true!) I have not applied that to my own self very well.

I also know what it takes to get faster and better. But if I want to change it, I need to put in the work to fix it. I KNOW all of this because I have a wealth of knowledge around me in the running industry and I have seen it. But every time I have set out to “get faster” something tends to interrupt it… or, let’s be honest… I just don’t like doing it. For me, trying to get faster actually takes the enjoyment out of the run.

I also feel the need to prove myself to others. There have been difficult conversations I’ve had about my pace which include “Oh, I pace the slow people” or “We’ll have to get you faster” or “Well, you can get a better time in your next run” when in reality, I am proud deep down for my accomplishment in lieu of life challenges. But the words have often taken away that accomplishment and made me feel as though I’m supposed to meet a standard that isn’t where I am.

Who determines what fast or slow is, anyway? What I think is fast may be slow to that person running that 8 min mile. My slow may be fast to the new runner who is just starting out. So where do we even get this idea of fast or slow? Isn’t the point to be healthy ? Isn’t the point to have a hobby we enjoy? Isn’t the point to yes, push to being our best version? Yes. It is. The focus gets to be so much on that finish time that I get caught up in it and am embarrassed to say what my finish times are.

Mind you, I applaud the elites and the fast runners. I am fascinated at their ability. Working towards a time goal is admirable and worthy. I’m simply speaking from my perspective and my running journey.  I know a lot about running because I have taught myself, I have learned from great runners around me, I have read about it and I have tried out different methods. And the bottom line is… when I am plain and simple out there doing it, I do enjoy it. And when I enjoy it, it’s freeing. Being a healthier me does not have to mean faster. If you watch a finish line sometime, you will see that people twice my size my finish ahead of me. It isn’t about size. In the running world, that is one aspect I love. Size doesn’t define speed.

Focusing on growth and change.

I am going to work on eliminating the words “I am slow” from my vocabulary. I am going to work on asking my runner friends more if they had a good time rather than what their time was.  And I am going to work on applying what I know to what I do.

This applies to all areas of life, too. Honestly, how many times do we learn something or know what we need to do, but we don’t apply it? Because it takes work. And then we complain about a lack of results.

I am very thankful for having an honest friend/mentor in my life who has encouraged me in my abilities but also humbles me and be brutally honest with me, too. “Stop saying you’re slow and be proud of what you’re doing!”  That is a rare person to have around.

So, I am not slow. I am perfectly me at my pace. I will continue to push myself to be healthy. But I will just enjoy the sport rather than beat my own self esteem up by continuously repeating the negative words others have said to me. I am not slow, and… I am back. Back to the basics, yes. But back on the finish line doing something I love.

Finding the fun again.

By the way, I had fun running the Knoxville 5K. And, in lieu of not being bashful or ashamed of my time, it was 40 minutes. But I finished. And for me, that is worth the smile and joy that the finish line brings. Because we all have a story, including me. I had fun. I learned new things about myself.  A good friend said “You crushed it!” And I smiled and embraced that. I crushed it because I completed it. We should all remember that because we all have a different journey. I gained a new excitement for running because I learned. And I ran the race and finished well.