It's seemingly been the longest week ever as I wait for race day. While Monday was all about second guessing every single thing regarding my training, Tuesday wasn't bad (oh yeah, that's because I ran), and today has been all about the weather (trust me Around the Bay runners, it hasn't changed in the last ten minutes--I checked) and thoughts of how we gauge our success as runners.
When I started running, I aimed to get to the point where I was running certain distances without stopping or walking. I remember the first time I ran my neighbourhood 5K route without stopping and was so proud. The milestones over that first year continued as I participated in races and achieved race results that were faster than any of my training runs.
For me, learning often comes from looking back. Running goals and paths arise from realizations of what I have been doing, sometimes somewhat blindly. This week when I compared my average pace this year to last, I discovered that it was slower, which was quite discouraging and lead to all that second guessing. Seeing photos on Instagram and Twitter of other runner's pace confirmed my snail's pace. I almost never post anything about my pace when talking about a run. I am, quite honestly, embarrassed to.
Today, I read a great post by Jen (@prettylittlegrub) as she reflected on her recent training and reasons for not getting faster. Every word that she wrote hit home and helped me connect the dots in my recent thinking. She, like I, realized that in order to get faster (in other words, to improve) she would need to really focus her training and push herself to extremes.
What hit me was that we were both using speed as an indicator of improvement and gauge of running success. People run for so many different reasons. So why should there be only one gauge of running success?
I absolutely love being able to call myself a runner. I get giddy talking about running. To my non-running friends and family, every one of my accomplishments is medal-worthy. To them my plan to run 30 kilometers this weekend is both crazy and admirable (both which I love). I can guarantee they will be incredibly impressed when I tell them I finished. They won't care if I finished in 3:30 or 4:00 hours. They will ask how I felt. They will ask if I had fun.
I'm not saying that I don't want to run faster, push harder and aim for PBs. I do. I will. But I also want to remember that speed is only one part of my success and enjoyment as a runner.