Getting slower…

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?


6 thoughts on “Getting slower…”

  1. I do. Like you, I done a lot of thinking about what caused it. There are some obvious answers — taking a year off any serious running (and nine months off running period) to have Billy, not having more than three days to train, prioritizing sanity and sleep over the running it would take to get faster, getting older, potentially some physical factors resulting in some decline in my lung capacity. Wow! That’s a lot of things and I guess that explains why there has been a LOT of slowing in my speed. I like your take on things though — the goal should be to enjoy running, and to enjoy it when we can and for as long as we can. It took some getting used to, but I’m okay with the fact that I’ll never qualify for another Boston. But it doesn’t mean we can’t have goals for particular races — they just have to be reset. For example, I’d like to finish another marathon someday, regardless of how fast. I have no doubt that will be a challenge, and so it is enough.

    Okay. Enough random thoughts from the peanut gallery. I liked your post.

    1. I agree on different goals. I am really looking forward to being a master runner, because I get to reset my PRs. Yay! I still want to push myself and not be the 6 hour marathoner getting a Starbucks while on course (not that there is anything wrong with that!), but I don’t think I will ever run any faster than I have in the last year or so. The only bad thing is I sometimes don’t budget enough time for long runs. Halfway through I realize “Oh yeah, I don’t run these with 7 minutes miles anymore.” Darn.

  2. We can all link a number of reasons for slowing down. I had finally accepted it and embraced it, and the goal is now not to slow down too fast too much! I agree that goals are importnat even for adults, keeps things interesting. I’ve seen too many people without (any kind of) goals. I don’t care what you do, just reach out for something. Chess and new book including:)

  3. Some of us more speed-challenged runners thoroughly enjoy the company of those that are slowing down to smell these roses (….even if we can’t smell the roses because y’all’s slow is our speedy) 🙂

  4. It definitely makes sense that ultras would cause some slowing down… I’m hoping I’m still on my speeding up phase for a bit longer, but I know that slow down is inevitable!

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