Speed isn’t everything.
That might seem strange coming from someone who regularly works on improving their speed.
Speed really doesn’t matter. For me, speed isn’t an ultimate goal. It’s something that will deliver me to my goal. Let me explain. You know what my favourite types of runs are? Long and slow. Those runs are liberating and joyful and they make my spirit dance. That is what I live for. I tolerate speed runs as a necessity. But my true love will always be long runs. As I’ve progressed as a runner, those runs have become longer. So now I wouldn’t really consider 20km or under as a long run for me anymore.
My goals have changed from when I started. Now my goal would be really to find out how far could I possibly go. How far until I reach my limit. Will it be a marathon or 50km or 100km? I don’t know but I’m putting the training in place to find out just how far I could take my passion for long distance running and see where I end up.
For me now, speed work is purely about building endurance for longer distances. That is the entire purpose of speed. My interest in running a really fast 10k or 5k is passing at best. And if I’m being really honest I have a love-hate relationship with racing in general. I love being able to put myself in a place to absolutely test every single one of my physical and mental limits. I love the environment. I love seeing other people. I love the atmosphere. But there are nerves to contend with beforehand. I almost have to convince myself that I can’t do it, so I will prove to myself that I can. The actual race is brutally hard, because it’s a race and that’s what pushing every limit you possess feels like. And while I love doing that, I wouldn’t necessarily say it is enjoyable.
Not everyone shares my love for long distance and for some people speed is their favourite type of run and driving to become faster is the ultimate motivator. But for me it is not. I think when you are thinking about your running and what your goals are it’s important to know why you are interested in doing something.
It’s easy to think that by default the goal is to get faster or tackle the next highest distance. But I think that the goal should be to find that thing that you love in your running and hold on to that. The best kind of running is the kind of running that you love. If I have a brilliant long run on a Saturday and I’m out there feeling alive for three hours do I actually care how slow or how fast it was?
What I do care about it is endurance. Which means I have to care about speed and probably cut-off times. But speed will never be the standard by which I measure my running. As it turns out, joy isn’t measured in minutes per kilometre.