Marathon Training: Slow is Good

I will be the first person to admit that I am not a fast runner. I’m solidly middle-of-the-pack, and perfectly happy with that. Yeah, I’d like to be faster, but I’m not willing to put in too much time and effort to get there, so there you have it.

Of course, I often feel self-conscious about my paces, as I’m sure many of my fellow runners do, but I try not to let it get to me too much. Historically, I  been very open with posting my training paces, either here on the blog in my Manic Monday training recaps, or on various forms of social media.

You may have noticed, though, that during this training cycle, I’ve mostly been posting times OR distances, but not both, or not including paces. And it’s because I’ve been running “slow” times. I put slow in quotation marks because speed is such a relative term. But I’ve been running slower-than-normal paces for me. And I was feeling self-conscious about posting my times. ESPECIALLY when I started browsing through old blog posts from last year or the year before (when I was mostly running shorter, faster distances) and comparing to what I’m running now.

Logically, I know that when running longer distances, one must slow down. When increasing your base during marathon training and putting in longer distances, it’s actually kind of important to slow the eff down. Coach Suz has crafted a plan based on her training and knowledge and my own personal history as a runner, previous paces included. At first, I was really bummed out by the paces she had me running. Even though in my head I accepted the need to slow down, I still didn’t want to share those paces. I was ashamed.

I’ve finally decided that that’s dumb. I hate how easy it is on the internet to only present your best self: only posting pictures of the healthy meals, only blogging about good things, or ONLY POSTING PACES WHEN IT’S “FAST.” I was committing one of my own biggest social media pet peeves. I was being a hypocrite, and that sucks.

I’ve written before about how it can be difficult to keep the “easy” in easy runs, and how much I struggle with that. But this training cycle is genuinely forcing me to slow down and honor easy. I don’t have to worry if every run isn’t right around my 5k pace, which is truly what I was doing before. Seriously, almost every run ended up at 5k pace. There were no easy runs. No recovery runs. I just went out and tried to run as fast as possible every time, fooling myself into thinking that was “easy.”

Now, after an (actual) easy run, instead of huffing and puffing and feeling like I’m going to puke, I feel happy, energized, and like I could keep running if I really had to. Sure, I’m not going to set any 5k PRs running the paces I am, but I will reach the end of my training cycle with a solid base, healthy, uninjured, and ready to complete my first marathon. And that’s what it’s all about. So from now on, I won’t be hiding my paces. I will proudly share what I’m accomplishing, whether it’s my fastest 10 miler ever or my slowest.

Do you share your paces on social media? Why or why not?

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31 thoughts on “Marathon Training: Slow is Good

  1. prairieprincessrunners says:

    I share the fast for me and the slow for me paces on social media. Most of the time the faster one get shared because I am excited. Some of it is for the blog and the hope that it shows people that you can get faster if you are an average or slower runner…it just needs a bit of concentrated work.

    I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of their paces. What matters is moving and training and finishing upright and smiling, which I know you will do in May, my friend and I cannot wait to be among the first to congratulate you when you finish. 🙂

      • prairieprincessrunners says:

        Believe me, I know it, Rae. I keep thinking of what I was doing pre Herbie the Hip Flexor.

        I think it is important to look at each training cycle as a new opportunity and a chance to start from scratch..and truthfully, soooooo many people, including myself, got slower when training for their first marathon. So seriously, don’t compare to anything. Take each run, each mile one at a time and try to make each mile a bit better in some way than the last one. Comparing will just destroy the fun and any other improvements you make.

  2. charissarunning says:

    I LOVE this post and it got me thinking I’m so guilty of this too. I tend to post my faster runs because I feel they’re the most interesting and people will get bored of my posts if I do it for every run, but perhaps choosing my “best runs” maybe contributes to the self-consciousness that we all experience about our “slower” paces. Your post here got me thinking about making a bigger effort to share the easier runs sometimes too. Maybe they aren’t as interesting in my own mind, but they are equally as important 😀

    Also, I am so happy to see you proud of your runs and pacing. I didn’t adjust much training for my first marathon and that’s definitely one reason why I struggled so much with long runs. Coach Suz has given you a great plan to follow and kudos to you for following through!

    • DarlinRae says:

      Thanks, Charissa! I think we’re all guilty of it at times. I totally agree with you that it seems more exciting or interesting to post big gains in fitness or speed, but if that’s all you post, or most of what you post, it gives an unfair perception that you’re always making improvements and all your runs are good, which is unfair to your readers.

  3. Reese says:

    Have you read the book 80/20 Running (http://amzn.to/1LJqscu)? It’s all about why it makes sense to run most of your runs slow and how you can get faster by doing so. I read it and realized by slow/easy runs weren’t slow enough. Now I run with a heart rate monitor and try to stay in zone 2 for my easy runs, sometimes that means walking and ending up with 13-14 minute miles but I think all of my workouts are more effective so ‘there ain’t no shame in my game’ 🙂

  4. attempttoadult says:

    Oh my goodness! I do the same thing. Then I think, at least I put on these clothes and went outside. It is fastee and farther than I would have been on the couch. Through training I have found myself discouraged with one or the other until 2 days ago when I looked at all my trips lined up and saw my pace going up, distances going up, and overall timd going down! It takes time. Keep it up!

    • DarlinRae says:

      Yes–I love the saying “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.” I’m glad you’ve found your stride in training. Isn’t it nice to look at the data and see the improvement?

  5. SuzLyfe (@suzlyfe) says:

    I totally understand. We are in a blogging and running culture that glorifies certain times and “accomplishments,” but we have to realize that accomplishment is personal, and success is different for every person. This is your first marathon; we have clear goals in mind, and we have some obstacles to overcome as we work. You don’t train for a 5k and a marathon simultaneously! And you are doing great!

    • DarlinRae says:

      Thanks, Coach! I feel good, and I know there is a rhyme and reason to what we’re doing, so I just need to calm my little numbers-obsessed brain and go with it!

  6. Darlene says:

    I don’t hide my pace. I just don’t really look. I keep track of distance and then delete. The only paces, I care about are for races and even then, I’m just glad to finish.

    Maybe if I were super fast, it would be different.

  7. hellyontherun says:

    I definitely celebrate my fast times but I make it a point to share my “slow” times too. Tuesday I ran my fastest 5 miler ever and a couple of weeks ago I ran a 6 miler two minutes slower. Shared both. I have friends who run fast ALL THE TIME and wonder why they get injured. The slow runs are so important.

  8. allisonfiorini says:

    I share my paces – mostly so I can go back and read how I felt in a given week at a certain pace. I have referenced my fall training posts a TON recently and I am thankful I have them in there and don’t have to go back through my Garmin data for specific runs. I feel like it’s a touchy subject though. What I consider slow and fast are not necessarily the paces other find easy or hard. I don’t want to offend anyone but I also like to share my whole process – the good, bad and ugly. My theory is that if people don’t like it, they won’t read it. I’m okay with that. I am so thankful for the people that read my blog and cherish their comments that those are the people who matter to me!

    • DarlinRae says:

      It’s all relative. What’s fast for me is slow for someone else, and what I consider slow for me might be someone else’s best time. That’s the way it always goes. I try really hard to only compare myself with myself. And I especially try to remember that I’m relatively new to running, and have my whole life to get better/faster.

  9. irishrunnerchick says:

    Thanks for sharing this Rae! Paces are so subjective and it’s hard not to get caught in the comparison trap. I found it really hard to see “slow” paces and not let it damage my ego. But then I was listening to a podcast (Marathon Talk) done by these super fast English guys (easily getting sub 3 hour marathons) and they do their easy runs at 9-10 pace. I thought it was kind of silly of me to be so wrapped up in numbers when it seemed as if these guys couldn’t give a crap.

    • DarlinRae says:

      Paces are SO DIFFERENT for every runner, it’s definitely hard not to get caught up in comparisons. That’s why I try to focus on bettering my own times rather than worrying about what other people are running. But like I said, it can still be hard because I was running faster last year when training for shorter distances, and I have to remind myself that marathon training is totally different.

  10. slowpokeiv says:

    Love this post. I’m kind of ashamed of my times, so no, I don’t post times. (Yeah, my nickname’s no joke, slowpoke…) I keep hearing how I beat the guy who stayed on the couch, but I keep thinking I should be faster. Even when I get asked about my marathon, I keep saying how I’m proud of the accomplishment, but not the time.

    Now, I’ll very quickly say: long, slow, distance runs (or LSDs as I love to call them) *must* be slow, so there’s honour in running them on pace, no shame at all.

    • DarlinRae says:

      I think finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment, regardless of how fast or slow. You can always put the work in to improve your times if that’s what’s important to you. I mostly “compete” against myself, hoping to continually improve over time, but it’s hard sometimes not to be jealous of people running 7 minute miles all the time.

  11. Fallon @ Slacker Runner says:

    I share paces depending upon my mood, fast or slow. I am running so slow right now. It is mostly intentional but at the same time it is frustrating me. My post going up tomorrow is a rant about my last long run attempt- boo. Why is easy so hard to do?! Great post!

    • DarlinRae says:

      I actually find running slow harder than running “fast” sometimes, especially mentally. It’s hard to get my gait right, and my hip usually ends up hurting more after a slower run than a faster one.

  12. txa1265 says:

    I have never been big on sharing my pace info, but half of that is I seldom look at it. I know the distances I run because I only have about a dozen possible routes I take and I have run them enough to know within ~0.25mi. So this morning I know I ran ~10.5 miles but am not sure of my pace … but again it doesn’t matter, because that wasn’t the purpose of going out for my run.

    I think social media and bloggers fuel terrible anxieties and feed into a sense of unreality – as you note, it is only the good stuff, 300 pictures taken to get that one ‘spontaneous’ selfie, and on and on. It makes you think everything needs to be a competition, everything needs a plan and a purpose.

    It is easy to feel inferior when watching social media and reading blogs … and it is hard to remember that very often those feelings you have when reading aren’t actually about you, they are reflections of the anxieties that the writer had that resulted in the post they wrote.

    All we can do is be the best version of ourselves – reading blogs that say that ANYONE can run a 6 minute pace marathon or have rock-hard abs or whatever but they just aren’t trying hard enough makes us naturally feel inferior. But it is all noise and nonsense.

    You are doing awesome, and you should be really proud of yourself and your progress!

    • DarlinRae says:

      Thanks Mike, and I wholeheartedly agree with your perception of the online community. That’s why I had to give myself a reality check. Nobody gives a damn what my pace is except me, and I write this blog for me, so that’s that.

  13. Nora says:

    I’m reading a book called 80/20 Running. It’s all about how 80% of your mileage should be easy. That’s made it a lot easier for me to be ok with slower for me paces. I’m doing my long runs 45 seconds slower than last fall and every run has gone spectacularly–I feel like I could run forever. Most importantly, I feel good all over. In the past I’ve had nagging injuries/random pain in spots.

  14. Pippa @ Pip in Motion says:

    I often tell myself I’ll set a certain run to private on Strava. But then I always share anyway. I think pretending it’ll be private just helps me chill out and not stress about how it looks to other people!

    • DarlinRae says:

      Imagination is a powerful thing, haha! I just try to remind myself that most people viewing my stuff don’t care what my paces are, and if they do, well, that’s their problem, not mine.

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