Some Runners Will Never Be Fast- Words of Encouragement From A Slow Runner.

May 13, 2013

Run at your own pace! No matter how slow you feel, you're lapping everyone on the couch!


I’ve been running for a year now and I really haven’t gotten much faster than when I started. On a good day, I’ll run a 11 minute mile. On a really good day, I’ll run a 10:30 mile.  Most of the time though, especially if it’s cold or the lungs don’t cooperate, I run a 12-13 minute mile. I’ve done three half marathons, a dozen 10ks, and plenty of 5ks and I’m not fast.  I’ve come to realize I’ll never fit the definition of fast and measuring my race success on pace alone was holding me back more than anything physical has.

At first, realizing I may never be in the front corrals was totally defeating- I had been training to become “better,” and for a long time, my definition of becoming a “better runner” was so narrow I was missing the bigger picture.  Pace isn’t the only measure of success.

For much of the last year, I would enter a race with high expectations of a pacing miracle.  I would quickly get disheartened when I would be slower than  I’d hoped and it seemed like every runner that would pass me by was a personal tally to remind me how much I suck at running. Here’s the thing- you’re always faster and better than all the miles you refused to try before you committed to running.  You can’t compare yourself to any other runner out there, your body is your own unique machine, you are running your own story.

Additionally, many of us worry when we get into running that we somehow are going to be slow and get left behind.  Sometimes it feels like by getting out and running a race, we risked being exposed as frauds, or that we will have to face down how bad we suck in a public setting.  If we feel we’re going slow, we see the people passing us and one, by one, person by person,and  it feels as if we get further and further away from the “real runners,” and will soon be picked up, shamefully, by the race organizers and hauled off for being too slow.  We see the people in front of us, instead of the people by our side and behind us- and put more weight on the fast runners rather than seeing that we are in no way in the minority. Many runners are running at our pace and a bulk of every race is filled with normal or “slow” runners, so if you’re telling yourself you’re a loser for being slow, you’re in good company. We losers rule!

Here’s the thing- no matter how slow you are, you’re better and faster than all the miles you refused to take in your non-running life. You’re stronger for all the times you got off the couch and got out there on the days you didn’t want to run. You’re better for it since you got up early for race day, got dressed and went outside to face yourself down.

I’ve been running for a year. I’ve done half marathons. I still run at a 11-12 minute mile pace.  It’s okay to be slow. Come as you are. Just get out there and run against yourself, not that impossible standard you’re chasing.  


Someday, you may get faster- if so, great. But for today, if you’re struggling with your slowness, focus on how much stronger you’ve become. Stronger to fight the urge to quit. Stronger from early hours or late night- time spent sacrificing your old ways for something greater. Stronger for the hours spent to get through the miles in discomfort, in humidity, cold, rain, to power up hills and pace yourself for from start to finish line.  Stronger for listening to your body and claiming what you’ve got- every ounce, fiber, flaw and flab and bone.


Faster? Not always. But stronger? Better? Greater. Hell yes.  Run at your own pace, and don’t stop chasing the person you want to be no matter how long it takes you.  


I’m Shannyn. I still run a 12 minute average mile. I run slow and I kick ass.  You do too.


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Disclaimer: The Women’s Running Series is compensating me for this trip as a member of Fitfluential, but all opinions (especially the part about being an awesome slow runner) is entirely my own.  

27 comments so far.

27 responses to “Some Runners Will Never Be Fast- Words of Encouragement From A Slow Runner.”

  1. Jen says:

    Wonderful post!! I also run at about a 12 min/mile pace, sometimes more. This is a great reminder that each runner is different, and no matter how fast or slow we go, we’re out there getting it done.

  2. Love.

    I’ve been running for about a year as well and my long distance pace is about 10:45 still. I sometimes care, but mostly just run because I love it and time is not a significant factor for me at all!

  3. Love this post! Running is definitely a different journey for each person. Some want to run faster while others want to run farther and then there are runners that just want to be out there and RUN. Each is totally cool! The point is that you are out there and doing something that you enjoy.

  4. Mrs Type A says:

    I can completely relate to this. I normally run at about an 11:30 pace myself, but depending on the day it can be between 10:30 and 12:30. This is after running consistently for two years, doing numerous 5ks, an 8k, a 10k, and a 10-miler. I also do the Galloway method (run/walk) a lot of the time (for my longer races) and it makes me self conscious. I have had non runners say mean things to me before about this— one coworker once told me my 5k “didn’t count” because I walked during it. It can be hard to feel like a real runner in those moments. But I just try to remember than anyone who laces up and chooses to go out for a run IS a runner! Your pace doesn’t matter.

    • Shannyn says:

      Your coworker needs to tone it down, seriously. But I feel you… my partner is a super fast runner (around 7-8 minute miles) and did track in high school. Running challenges both of us, but he seems to have more control on his performance than I do…sometimes I think runners that are faster get mentally competitive with other runners and say things they wouldn’t…

      Like your coworker would never say something that mean in another context (like saying new clothes were less good if you got them on sale..who knows) but for some reason, it’s okay to pick on people for running when they miss the point- YOU ARE RUNNING. Saying cr*p like that sets the tone that if you can’t run a half marathon without stopping to walk or rest, you shouldn’t try at all- if that was the case about 45% of runners wouldn’t participate…and I would know, I work in the industry!

      I walk and run my races… there is nothing wrong with it if you are considerate of other runners and try and have a good time. You are a real runner!

    • Shannyn says:

      I’m glad… I’m tired of all the comparison games and “worthiness” issues runners struggle with… I’m glad this resonates with people!

  5. Kim@BusyBod says:

    Omg I love you forever for this post. I’m planning to post this week about my hate-hate relationship with running. I have hated and avoided running for so long because I let being slow define me as “out of shape” and “not good enough.” When I branched out to other types of fitness I realized running just isn’t my strength… and there is nothing wrong with that! Now I’m slowly getting back into running and there is something so incredibly freeing about letting go of those self-imposed, unrealistic expectations. I literally just got back from the longest run of my life (6 miles, sad I know, but I’m still proud!), something I was only able to accomplish by letting myself be slow instead of trying to force myself to run at a pace I arbitrarily decided was “good enough.” I’m so happy to be adopting a healthier/saner approach to running and so happy others are standing up for slowness! You rock 🙂

    • Shannyn says:

      Number one…aww, thank you!

      Number two… six miles is awesome. Are you kidding me??? I hadn’t run more than a mile until I was 25… like, really…a mile was as far as I’d gone and that was in high school. Six is a huge accomplishment and you don’t need to be shy because that’s “all you’ve done,” since it’s more than most!

      You are good enough. 🙂 To get good at something, you have to embrace that you’ll suck at first yet in the running community, many of us feel pressure to be “naturally talented” and aside from elite runners, it doesn’t really exist- everyone starts off being mediocre.

  6. Nisrina says:

    thks for this post

  7. desi says:

    Omg. I love this. Thank you. I have been so worked up about running FASTER instead of running BETTER – working on my form, stride, breathing, etc. Pace and speed are such a small part of running – thank you for the perspective that it’s okay to not run sub-8 minute miles or sub 2-hour halfs. 🙂

  8. Totally agree!!!

    As I always tell my slow runner self – I’m lapping everyone on the couch! 🙂

  9. Katie says:

    This post really brightened my day – Sometimes it’s hard not to feel down when you read ‘We started with a few steady 9 minute miles’ and I’m reading thinking ‘Well that’s what I consider a darn good pace for me!’..
    I love running in the 10min mile zone and so what if people think that’s slow? It means I can keep going..I went out first thing this morning and even stopped and walked, hell I’m only human! I used to be so embarrassed of my times and often resisted mentioning them and suddenly I realised I was not as far off people as I thought..I would rather run a 12min mile and enjoy every moment than injure myself pushing for 8’s and 7’s..
    Super post – You kick ass!

  10. Stephanie says:

    You definitely run a lot! And that’s pretty impressive to me! I feel like there’s always a new post from you about another race you just finished! So that’s pretty cool 🙂

    Do you WANT to get faster? Or are you cool with your speed? I agree with Desi, that running better is more important than running faster. As long as you’re happy with your pace, and you enjoy running, I think you’re doing a-okay!

  11. Such an important reminder! I love this Shannyn and it is so encouraging! I have been getting faster, but some days I don’t and this is a great reminder not to beat myself up..Im doing so much good for my body!

  12. Denise says:

    Running is good for you–doesn’t matter how fast. Congratulations!

  13. Courtney says:

    Yes! This is exactly right. I blogged about that recently ( and it is so true. The only person who cares how fast you are running is YOU — so enjoy the blessing that is being ABLE to run and DO YOU. 🙂 Love this post!

  14. Lana Paige says:

    Great post. <3

  15. I really needed this today. So glad I found it 🙂

  16. I’m your newest reader <3

  17. Ashley says:

    I love this post – this is exactly what I was looking for!
    I try 5 times a week to run up and down Lake Shore Dr to get ready for a 10k in the city that is July 27th. I haven’t been able to complete the whole 6 mile run yet. I haven’t been able to do 3 miles without my body wanting to rest. My goal should be to finish, not to be the best (although those huge cash prizes for 1st place are pretty sweet). Anyways, thanks for letting me know that the best I can be is on my own terms, not someone else s.

  18. Karen says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how much this post means to me. Thank you gpfom the bottom of my discouraged, but not giving up heart!

  19. miriam spencer says:

    Great post! I started running last year at the age of 56 having NEVER run before in my whole life (I was not a ‘sporty’ child). I am scared silly about my first half marathon in three weeks time – just hoping to run across that Finish line preferably beating three hours! I have recently started using the Galloway walk/run method and hope that I am not shamed from using this strategy on Race day!
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  20. Christine says:

    I know you posted this a long time ago, but I just found it today. Thanks for a great post!

    I started running 9 years ago (after being a decidedly non-athletic person for most of my adult life). When I started, I couldn’t go more than a couple blocks without stopping to walk, and I was super slow but figured I would get faster with time. It took a long time, but I built up my endurance to the point that I can run 13.1 miles…I have run countless 5Ks and 10Ks, and now have 10 half-marathons under my belt (and am signed up for 2 more in the next 3 months). Guess what- I never got much faster!! I run at least 20-25 miles each week, and if I am running 11-12 minute miles on my long runs I am happy with it! Am I winning races? No. Am I happy to be out there running? Hell yeah! You can absolutely be a “real” runner and not be fast.


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