May 29, 2010

I'm giving up speed.

In order to make running a greater joy for me, I'm giving up speed. It's hard for me not to feel like I must keep up with the faster times of my running peers and friends.

I'm am short (4' 9") and into my middle-age years and am quite used to making allowances because of my height. And I like to think that with a few adjustments in my daily life (such as learning to climb store shelves, or at least cleverly knocking things off of them, keeping a step stool as my trusty side-kick--which I do kick around the kitchen by the way, etc.) I can overcome this shortness thing. But this one of speed is really hard to hurdle over. It's pretty hard to not to pick up a running magazine or read about a training plan and have them not talk about speed. 

So here I am, a rather short runner, with a pretty good average stride pace of 175 (180+ on tempo runs) steps per minute, which puts me anywhere between 10 to 12 minutes a mile depending on stride pace. Now, I did a little research and the average size runner running at 175 steps will cover a mile in 9-10 minutes. So even though I am running the same pace, it takes me about 2 minutes longer to cover that mile. This explains why I don't like to run races. Would you want to run a race where everyone around you runs 10 miles, but you have to run 12 and finish with the same times? Neither do I. I know I can cover the distance, I don't need a race or medal to to validate that.

Over the years I've been running I've tried the logical solution of increasing my stride length to gain more distance and thus shortening the amount of steps it takes me to cover a mile. Well I gave up that idea because when I did try to stretch out my stride I ended up injuring myself as I was forcing my body to take on a running form it did not like. I tried quickening my stride pace, but even the most elite runners run on average a 180 step pace, not much faster than I am running already, so obtaining a quicker foot turnover isn't all that realistic either, especially at my age, but I will continue to try. 

But, one thing I can do is be damned proud of the fact that consistently every Saturday I am out running for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at a time and running weekly a total of 6 to 7 hours. There sure aren't many 48 year old women who can do that!!! And that fills me with much joy.

How are you going to make your next run more joyful?


  1. Well spoken. I like your perspective. Working within our own confines is wise council.

  2. I've lost your email! but are counting on you for RRT 9 June, see Thanks! Toni

    PS I am impressed that you can keep to long runs when you're not training for a race!