Slow Marathon Runners, An Odeposted on October 23, 2019

As you know by now if you follow our blog, we have two soon-to-be marathon runners in training. And, as both of them make the big climb, they’ve learned about how to take their minds and bodies to the limit. They’ve discovered during the journey for training everything from improved breathing to figuring out how to work with a running coach. But the latest they’ve learned about is accepting and celebrating being a slow marathon runner. As a result of their training, they’ve uncovered that some people abuse, insult, and don’t like a slow marathon runner.

Before training, neither of our team members, Courtney or Angela, knew that slow marathon runner abuse was even a thing. But, it turns out that in London, back of the pack runners were subject to abuse. In fact, the debate of slow runners has been happening for years, going as far back as 10 years in a New York Times article.  Consequently, some elite athletes don’t appreciate slow runners. They say that a marathon is a “race.” And, unless you have a good racing time, you have no business running a marathon.

Training of A Slow Marathon Runner

All of this became a topic of discussion within our team for a few days. And, so we decided to put this topic out there in celebration of all runners. The way we see it, choosing to run a marathon takes enormous commitment. There are many marathons in the United States, but only 0.5 percent of the population has run a marathon. And, there’s a reason why that number is so low. It’s because running a marathon is tough. It’s not only about putting your body through a grueling 26.2 miles. But, it’s also about all of the preparation leading up to the day of the event.

The training of a slow marathon runner involves a lot of the same elements that elite runners do. Meaning, they have to eat well to ensure they have as healthy a body as possible. All runners train—even on days when they don’t feel up to it, or it’s pouring outside; they still train. Also, all runners have to make the mental commitment to work through the pain of exercise. Candidly, the mental strength of a slow marathon runner is no different than that of an elite runner. Both are still pushing themselves through hardship. Finally, there are many other sacrifices that all marathon runners endure, such as the expense of a coach, or limiting delicious foods and drinks.

What’s it Like to Know You’ll Be at the Back of the Pack

The reality is that every runner walks and every runner has to start somewhere. As Courtney said, “Some people are overcoming health issues but still set up a marathon goal, even if they will be a slow marathon runner. Others take this as a new sport, but those folks didn’t start at eight years of age running marathons. Maybe they started, like we did, at mid-life. You gotta start somewhere, right?” Also, slow runners begin after the faster-paced groups in a marathon. The groups that follow the elites get broken out by the pace group where they qualify. In other words, slow marathon runners start after faster runners, so there is no problem for the fast marathon racers who want to make a good time.

When we asked Angela her thoughts about being a slow marathon runner, she replied, “I’d like to just encourage every person, who has the dream of running, to just get out there and get started. You’ll find some opposition (thanks to the ability to hide behind the social media wall) but there are tons of runners and running groups out there who are supportive no matter what your pace. Toe the line – it’s just you you are competing against. 18 minute or 10 minute miles, a mile is a mile friend.”

No Matter Your Pace, You Can Be A Marathoner

Our take in support of our teammates is this; embrace being a slow marathon runner. Again, you’re doing what only 0.5 percent of the population does! You’re challenging yourself in tough ways that build character and strength.

And, one more thing. Runners go through sneakers quickly. On average, between 300 and 500 miles, runners have to change their shoes. Please remember not to harm the environment by throwing your sneakers in the garbage. They’ll only end up in landfills and causing great environmental harm. So, join thousands of others in the social good movement and make a difference with your gently worn, used and new sneakers.


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