Trevelino/Keller is full of runners. Serious runners who do 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, triathlons and even ultra running. Me, I started running about a year ago. A little at a time, I’ve grown to really like it. Just me and the pavement and a combination of some hard core Rap and poppy Pop music in my earphones motivating me along. I’m not in it to win races, I just want to feel better and have fun.
But this summer I started to become very self-conscious about my running speed. I’m slow. I plod along. I’m getting more stamina for distance, for sure, but can’t go faster. Lots of people in my neighborhood get out and run early every morning, (which in the high humidity of South Carolina summer is the only time to run). We wave and smile at each other. But everyone is faster than me. Old people. Moms pushing kids in wheelchairs or strollers. Pregnant women. When one is passed by everyone daily, one starts to feel a bit silly. Then my younger sister entered her first 5K and did well enough to come in 15th in her age group. Sibling rivalry reared its ugly head, even at age 40.
Me: “How come she can run so much faster than me?! She hasn’t been running as long as me! Why am I so slow? Why is everyone faster than me?! What am I doing wrong?! ACK!” (insert proper whining tone here)
Husband: “Maybe you are just . . . slow. Who cares? At least you are doing it.”
Nice words from a nice husband, but they didn’t make me feel better about being so darn slow. I mean, I honestly don’t care if I ever win a race, I just want to run and have fun. But being so slow feels like it should be something to be embarrassed about. And my lack of speed was certainly becoming discouraging. I wondered if I should start telling people I “jog” vs. “run” to make it clear I’m not a real runner.
So I started to do what all of us in the New Millennium do . . . I looked online for kindred spirits, hoping I wasn’t alone. Turns out, I’m not. Articles like this one in the New York Times cheer me up (her story about pacing alongside a double amputee is one I very much can relate to). And this writer reminded me I’m doing better than 80% of other Americans just by getting out there. There’s even an online community of runners without the need for speed! Knowing I wasn’t abnormal being a “turtle,” helped me find my motivation to keep at it.
I’m extremely efficient in my daily personal and work life. At home, I can throw in a load of laundry, feed my family a meal, get a son to soccer and a daughter to karate and swing by a store to pick up that present for the upcoming birthday party all in the course of an hour. Similarly, at work I can accomplish in an hour what takes many people half a day to do: write a memo, respond to the client’s question about an upcoming tradeshow, provide recommendations on the upcoming product launch and pitch a story to the Wall Street Journal. In our industry we have to be able to move fast, make decisions quickly and be ready to change course at any given moment. So maybe that’s why I felt so bad being so slow when I ran. I’m fast, efficient and speedy everywhere else in life except for on the road.
In the end, what I discovered was that my brain would slow down, too, when I ran . . . giving me a break from all the brain synapses that need to happen to keep up with the rest of my life. I’m discovering the importance of the moment, the value of slowing down.
Amos knows this already. Amos is a “friend” I’ve made on my daily morning slow runs. He’s a rabbit that likes to eat the clover in the same spot at the same time every morning. He watches me run slowly by each day, never worried, and I’m sure wonders where in the world I’m hurrying to. Indeed, Amos.
Kira Perdue (@kperdue ) will be running slowly in the Run for the Yorktown 5K in November and the Charleston Bridge Run 10 K in April.