In light of what would be the Boston Marathon weekend, I thought I'd share a topic to boost morale within the resilient and rapidly evolving running community.
It’s common for “runners” to shy away from identifying as a runner because of a specific image of speed, appearance or experience they believe a “runner” should have. Whether you run for one minute, a mile or a marathon - you are a runner! Community during times like this unites us, and the running community especially does not discriminate, so once again - welcome!
My runner’s high has climbed to the height of the Rockies with a widened population getting in touch with exercise extremely natural to the human body. What brings my high back down to Denver is how newly engaged runners commonly talk about their runs. It seems they’re excited to share their activity with me, but it normally looks or sounds like this, “It took forever, but I went for my first run in years, months, weeks…etc.”
Why does speed have to be the first detail to describe a run?
If the running community is ready to welcome you whenever you decide to lace up those sneaks, why are so many hesitant to embrace the running community comparably? If it’s speed that’s slowing you down from feeling supported:
Let it be known: Slow is the way to go!
Reason One: Reduce Your Stress Levels
Sure, running fast can feel great, but when you ask your body to keep up with speeds that yield 160 heart beats per minute (bpm) for 60 minutes or more, your cortisol (stress hormone) levels are bound to flood your system. Learning to run slow galvanizes your ability to be present and pull the plug on some silly pressure set by a PR (personal record). As a result, you’ll increase your endurance and more importantly, find more joy in the sport while your strength and stamina see no limits.
Reason Two: Revel in Recovery
Joe Vigil, a legendary coach in the running industry is famous for saying, “There’s no such thing as overtraining, there’s just under resting.” Since running slow is a form of active recovery, your body releases growth hormones that in concert reduce the release of stress hormones, progressing performance. In other words, if you’re pushing your body to run fast repeatedly, the appropriate growth hormones simply will not be released, and recovery - absent.
Reason Three: Cut out the Comparison
Comparison is the disease of the human race. Social media certainly generated a rise in racing, but I think it may have averted people with a specific "runner" image in mind. Since I learned about the Boston Marathon postponement, I’ve chose to run my own runs for my own enjoyment, slow. I’ve applauded my fellow runners and elites on Instagram and Strava for their speedy splits, but choosing to run more casually reminds me why I started in the first place. The act of letting go of the pressure I put on myself has been as cathartic as running itself.
Maybe running is not for you! Consider applying the concept of taking some of the pressure off of your favorite physical activity, workload or routine. If that feels unattainable, asking for help is always available with many counselors, coaches and always in my virtual office.