It happens; every runner slows down at some point. My first big slow down and consistent lack of improvement was when I started ultrarunning. I did lots of long, slow runs, and I got good at long, slow runs. I couldn’t keep up with my marathoning friends, and it was a wake up call…do some speed work! I started pushing harder, and was able to barely eek out another Boston qualifier, but I did it. Speed work, worked!
Now, to back up just a bit, I’ve never been a fast runner. I’ve always been middle of the pack, but at a time I was more at the top of the mid pack, fighting my way to age group awards, but hardly someone who was at the top. I now find myself at the end of the mid pack. So what changed?
Is it just a product of getting a little older? It’s been a muggy summer, I’ve allowed some slow down due to that. Since having Jasper, I don’t get as much rest as I used to, and I allow some slow runs for that. Excuses? Legitimate reasons for slowing down?
Another thing to ponder: Does it matter? As I said, I’ve never been a top runner, I never will be. All my running is mainly for fun. My running goal is always longevity and staying injury free, so posting faster times shouldn’t really matter.
But, goal setting is very rewarding. Once we are out of childhood, and young adulthood, there are few opportunities for challenging ourselves. Academics are over, no more team sports, and unless you have a very competitive job or you’re a scientist, chances are there’s not a ton of challenge in the workplace. So yes, it’s nice to set a running goal, and then watch it happen (hopefully).
So where am I in all this? Well, as we got a little cool down in the weather, I thought I would see some quicker runs. I have not. I have serious doubt about my fall marathon goal. I think it may be too ambitious. Maybe I’ve just hit a point where I need to accept I am not the runner I used to be. Not that I do a lot about it either. My “speed” work is pretty simple, and I keep it minimal mainly for that whole stay injury free factor. I gave it some thought this week, and I don’t see me changing what I’ve been doing. If I don’t see some improvements as we get more and more cool days, so be it. My Boston marathoning may end. I work hard while keeping it fun and not going over what I think will keep my joints and bones healthy.
Lastly…I always try and remember just be happy to get out and run. Every runner knows the feeling of that run that feels effortless, peaceful, and completely fulfilling. For me that run is usually a 6-7 miler on a 60 degree morning done by myself followed by a good cup of coffee and a little stretching. If I can keep doing that most mornings until I am well into my senior years, then that’s all I can really ask for, and I’ll hardly worry about the fact I’m a bit of a turtle.
Thoughts? Anyone else feel like they are slowing down?