Tuesday, 17 January 2012

It doesn't matter if you're faster than me

I am amazed at how much my pace has improved since I started running, and to have PBs of 1:23 for 10miles, 1:53 for a half and 4:09 for a marathon just blows me away - I never thought I could run that fast and I am proud of myself.

But in the office today for a meeting was a visitor who is also a runner.  I didn't know he was a runner but we started chatting while making tea, and we were talking about our training plans, long runs, and that we both plan to tackle our first ultra race this summer.  I also found out we're both training for the Brighton Marathon.

Conversation goes:
Him - "So, what time are you aiming for?"
Me - "I'd love to get sub 4hrs this year and Brighton's a fast course, so hopefully I'll make it.... how about you?"
Him - "I'm going for 3 hours"
Me - "Wow, that's amazing!! What's your PB?"
Him - "3.34 but I'm running 7 min miles in training at the moment so it should be easy"

I walk away from this conversation feeling like I've been kicked in the teeth.
  • He didn't comment on the time I'm aiming for - does that mean he's not impressed...which means does he look at me with some sort of level of scorn? Does he think I'm not really a runner because I'm going to be running at least an hour slower than him in Brighton (and sub 4hrs will only happen if I have a great race).
  • Is it that he said it was easy to run that fast that has upset me?
  • More importantly, why does it matter what he thinks?  
I'm sure he doesn't look down on me - he's a nice guy - and I know it doesn't matter what he thinks, but I can't help feeling really deflated.  I know that I am motivated by improving against my own times, and I know that I'm never going to be winning races, but that's never really bothered me. I love what I do, I've worked really hard to improve and I'm proud of my achievements.  But for some reason this conversation got to me and now I wish I hadn't talked to him about it which is a real shame because usually I love to share my running with other people.

I'm not sure why I've had this odd reaction. I wonder if maybe it's because when I see other runners in races going very fast, or I read about them online, that's who they are - amazing runners that I look up to and admire but when it's someone who I know in a completely different capacity, I feel  an unnecessary level of competitiveness.

Or maybe (and thinking about it, more likely) it's because he said it was easy...how can running a marathon in 3hours be easy?!  I just don't believe that, I can't believe it, and so I wonder whether he was trying to be condescending.

Anyway, I should stop analysing this now, and move on.  If I get a sub 4hr marathon I will be absolutely over the moon.  And if he finds it easy to run a 3 hour marathon, then that's great for him, but I don't run because it's easy...if it's easy, surely it means you're not working hard enough however fast (or slow) you're going ;)


  1. Everything is relative. My personal best marathon time is 5:46, so your sub-4 sounds like a miracle time! :)

    Being where I am in the pack, I'm almost always going to be talking to someone faster than me, so I know what you're going through. I'll bet that you can go out today and find 5 other people who are totally impressed that you're running a marathon and won't even think to ask about your time! Don't sweat this guy, he's probably just caught up in his own goals.

  2. Thanks so much Kim :) Really appreciate your comment. I'm sure you're right, and he is just really focused on his training & targets and he wasn't thinking anything negative at all! I'm being over sensitive.

    My second marathon (in April 2010) was a 5:41 so the thought of sub4hr seems like a miracle time to me too!

    Like you say, it's all relative & however fast or slow we run, it's all running, and we're all training the same, getting out when we want to be on the sofa, running in the rain...and enjoying the journey - that's what is important to share & I need to remember it! :)

  3. Ahh... such a dilemma.
    One of the best quotes I heard recently (in a story about the Olympic Marathon Trials) was "run your own race." Most of us are never going to win a gold medal. That's no tragedy. The tragedy would be not trying to improve.
    PS - I love the phrase about lapping everyone on the couch. I posted in on the wall before my last half marathon. :)

    1. Thanks for the comment, I completely agree. Think I was pretty annoyed when I wrote that post, have calmed down now and am a bit more chilled about the whole thing! ;)

  4. Can I be totally honest and say I think he's being an absolute jerk? How arrogant! And runners should be supportive of each other and he seems completely self-centered!

    You have PBs and a pace that I can only dream about at the moment, and you've accomplished so much. Don't forget that! And I agree....we don't do it because it's easy. We relish the challenge!

    Ignore that stupidhead. I'd like to imagine that he's all talk, and you're going to storm past him in Brighton with a wave and a smile!

  5. Absolutely love your comment - thank-you!!

    Can't imagine how satisfying it would be if it had been entirely talk and I did pass him on the marathon course LOL

    I can only hope ;)