In her own newsletter earlier this week, Hollie Sick wrote about the differences between how running and runners are depicted on social media and those of us who run in the “real world.”
👉 Key quote: “If social media was all you knew, you might assume that everyone is training to break 3 hours in a marathon OR that a 12-minute mile is ‘slow.’ It's not."
This sparked a conversation I had over email with one of our subscribers, as it hits at an insecurity I feel in myself too — I’m not nearly as fast as some of the runners I see in the media. But how fast is “fast”? How slow is “slow”? I have no idea, to be honest. What do you think?
I think that these definitions depend on the runner. Everyone has a fast and slow pace...for them. Being a runner who would be considered slow by standards, I don't think that labeling myself and comparing myself to speedier runners is going to do anything other than make me feel bad about my abilities. The important thing is that I am putting my shoes on and getting out there. I am trying to be a better version of myself and I will keep trying to improve my pace on my terms. The important thing is that I am out there running and doing what I can to support my local running community.
I'm about to turn 64, and age is slowing me down. But I'm good with that. I evaluate my own running based on how well it is meeting my own objectives, which are to have fun and stay healthy. I used to be faster, and that was fun while it lasted. Every day I can get out and move my feet is a blessing, so I'm going to just enjoy that as long as I can!
It is all relative. I usually run at 11:30 min/mile pace and there are times when I push myself and get close to 10:30 min/mile. However, I have never felt that I am either slow or fast. You run at your own comfortable pace without worrying about whether it is slow or fast. Some people want to run for the sake of competition and breaking records, while some others, like me, just want to do it for the sake of pure enjoyment. At the end of the day, to each its own, I would say :)
It's so true! I've said this in a couple of places but throughout my running journey I've had the privilege to watch and talk to a few professional runners. A lot don't care AT ALL, about easy pace. Easy is whatever works for them. They might run 4:30 miles and jog 9 min miles for their easy runs. When I ran the NYCM in 2018, I watched the eventual overall winners warmup. They could not have been going faster than 12 min miles walk-running. They don't care. Pace is so relative. I also work in run specialty and we see people whose "fast" is 16 min miles and others whose fast is 4:30...it's relative for you.
There are some glorious days where the humidity is low and I somehow find myself running a 9:45 for base runs, which pleases me greatly. But my "normal" time is somewhere between 10:25 and 10:50. I've started to really let go of caring whether or not that qualifies as fast in the eyes of others. I know I'll never be a speed demon and I'm past the point of caring. In July I'm going to be running a virtual 20 miler for charity and I hate heat--so not only will I be starting no later than 5am but I will probably run something like 11:00 WITH short walking breaks! I guess I have no shame! :) Walking breaks are another personal preference that can be leveraged as shame between runners--sometimes you feel great and don't stop to walk--sometimes you're under-rested, or sore, or didn't eat exactly right, and you take walk breaks. Maybe it's true that the older you get the less you care about what others think. I'm 37, so maybe I'm just an old soul then, haha. I should add that although I'm also a seasoned runner--I still think I look incredibly awkward when I see myself in a shop window while running! Yet another aspect of social media that we should all toss away IMO.
I use to be able to do 10K in 55 minutes. Much younger. At 74 I am discouraged when seeing times of other runners. I am aiming for an 11 minute mile. I guess I should just be happy that I am still able to run.
I've been running every day (except illness) for over 40 years. In my 20s I was the first woman in a 10-mile race and came in second in a half marathon where my fasted few miles were 6:20 and overall I ran a 7:10 pace. I placed first in my age group in a 10k when I was 42. For years my average daily run pace was 9 mm and slow was 10. Over time that pace became slower, but I knew that would happen. To me, if you're interested in racing, it's all about your age group. Many women in my age group are faster than me (I'm 64 now), but I routinely run faster than women who are decades younger.
Running 3 minutes a mile slower than race pace is what you should be doing if you're daily running. I run an easy 11:15 to 11:30 now in daily runs, and it's fine. Also, if you try to run at a race pace too often you're more likely to injure yourself. If you're a long time runner in your 50s or 60s your legs will likely feel stiff starting out. It takes 3 miles or so just to warm up and that's the case if you're 20 or 60. For me, it's always about just running daily because I love it. Pace isn't important at all. I tell new runners, don't think about pace or judge yourself or compare yourself to others. Just go out and run, and make it a habit.
I consider myself a slow runner but I can do 3-4 miles at a 12 minute pace. I usually take endurance over speed. Then again, I’m 59 so maybe not so slow as I think
I think it all comes down to what YOU can do. 12 minute miles is my slow and 10:30 is my fast. Since, when I race, I compete to finish and not to win, I'm only trying to beat or challenge myself. It makes running more enjoyable!
In my honest opinion, moving is moving and it’s better than not moving every day. I myself find that because of past performances across all speeds that if I fail to maintain or improve that everyone is looking down upon me. It’s a self brought on condition but when you are accustomed to top finishes consistently the pressure is kind of manufactured. I race 19:14 5k, but just the other day I also ran a 25:24 5k, to me fast is the sub 7 and slow is 10 and higher range.
This issue has always been tough for me since my running background is in sprints. Also, my most frequent running partner is my husband, whose natural mile pace is well over a minute faster than mine. Since at this point I’m familiar with every race from 100m dash to half marathon, I really try to focus on trusting my own gauge/range of paces. On the other hand, faster distance runners do push me to question whether I know my potential.
One of the things I like about the running community is that it really doesn't matter what your pace is. It's only important to you. I used to be in the 10 min/mile, now I'm down to about a 8:40, to some that's fast, to others its slow. What matters is that we support one another and accomplish our own personal goals. As many have said, the best run is when you get out the door and put one foot in front of the other!
Good article. I wanta believe speed is not what it's about but everyone has egos. I'm 64, started running about 3 years ago. I'm very slow by most standards, avging 17-18/mile but I can go the distance which is what it's about for me. My longest stretch is 16.2 mi and longest with a couple hrs interrupt in between was 23.8 mi so it's clear to me I can run a marathon given enough time which feels good to me. It would be nice to be faster but I think I'm better off with my consistent where I am, we'll see. Happy running to all!
Great question! I'm a half marathoner. When I was 43, I was in the middle of the pack with a "run/jog" technique. Now I'm 65 and I'm at the back of the pack with a "walk/jog/feeble run" technique (LOL). But I'm still in the pack and I'm still moving forward. I never had formal training or understood techniques for going faster; I didn't look at pace or placement. I wanted to participate, finish strong and enjoy the accomplishment. Can't wait to formally race again.
This is a question I have been pondering recently, as I have always prioritized distance over speed. When I race, I am always roughly in the middle of the pack and usually run or jog the entire time. However, I have recently read many discussions prioritizing time and pace. It's true that speed training is a better workout, but how fast is truly fast? I would be happy if I completed a marathon in under four hours for now.
It was not here, but something that helped me over Winter were the words of a writer. They said that even Kipchoge does his practice runs at a 3-3.5 min pace slower than his races. So for me, that means I could practice at 12-13 and still have a decent race. (Assuming appropriate speed work is done as well) My best 10K was 9, my best half was 11.05 and my best full was 12.30 (up to mile 21 when the race was cancelled) So I generally try to run training runs at 11-12. Last year I did this wrong on my running streak and burnt out for several months as I just tried to run faster and faster.
So now that I am almost 5 years into my running I am starting to understand all of this a little better. If I avg 13+ in practice and could do a half at 10 and a 10k at 8.5 I would be very happy with those numbers. (At my age & physical limitations not related to age)
It depends on age. I am 66, and 9:30 miles will sometimes get an age group award in a half marathon. When I was 30, that was painfully slow. The main thing is to have fun and stay fit.
I think sub 7/mile is fast and over 12/mile is slow. I run a 12/mile pace for marathons and I am near the bottom in the rankings. That doesn’t devalue me as a runner... but the fact is most people are faster than me 🤷🏽♀️ On the flip-side, I can do a 7:30 pace for a 5K. I’m not fast enough to be seeded, but that’s faster than average.
This is such a great thread! I’ve been starting to get back into running recently and have been very discouraged at my pace. I ran my first half marathon in 2018 and have had spurts of running since. My out of my 4 runs in the past week and a half, I’ve beat my 5k PR three times (9:18 average). I told a friend, who also runs, and he said why aren’t bragging about this and my response was “Well, it’s not a “fast” time in general/comparison to other runners.” He said, the only comparison is to yourself, you’re competing with yourself and not anyone else. Light bulb! He’s totally right and I’ve seen this in the comments too. Today though, my goal is to forget about pace and enjoy a nice, long jog! :)
Thanks everyone and enjoy your weekend!
Guess I am doing OK then -- doing the New Jersey Virtual Race (Garden State Parkway -- 172.4 miles) completed 129.3 miles in the first 29 days average of 4.4+ miles a day. -- Averaging 12:15 minutes a mile.
To be honest though, 90% of my runs are in what I consider my sow range, however due to social media I am cautious and afraid to post my slow runs for fear of being compared or judged.
I have the same answer for both. When you come around the last turn and there's a half mile to the finish line, and no one is ahead of you.
The age graded system tells how fast you are compared to the fastest in the world at your age.
It all depends on how long you have been running and what your running goal is. For some, their running goal is to break a certain pace or run a race under a certain time. I, however, am in it for the distance. As a new runner, I like to see how far I can run. I do track my pace, though, because I like to see if I am getting any faster. Speed, however, is not my goal.
During my run today I decided not to look at my watch/pace and I thought that might be a good definition for fast run - when you completely trust yourself that you run as fast or comfortably fast as you can do today. You are all correct saying we compare ourselves to others all the time, and not in just running. But should we? I agree on one side that competition drives some desire to do better, but so do disruptions like this one. When each starts rethinking what he or she can do better without much looking at others. I am not happy with the disruptions, but glad I have a chance to rethink a lot.
Run what is comfortable to you. Don't worry about what everybody else is running. Get out and enjoy a good run
A 6 minute mile is the exact same distance as a 14 minute mile. I think that those of us that are slower actually enjoy running more than the speedsters because we are actually running longer.