As a new runner and a heavy runner, I often feel like I am outside of the group looking in, training to "be there one day." There are a lot of groups. USA Fit divides runners into groups by pace. Other training programs place people in groups by experience or ability. There are marathoners, sprinters, walkers, big runners, small runners, fast runners, slow runners, all kinds of groups. IMO, the reason many new runners don't stick with running is that they don't feel that they are part of a group. Or, more likely, they are trying too hard to be included in the "real runner" group or the "fast" group or the "far" group and they burn out early in their running experience. One contributing factor to this tragedy is how new runners PERCEIVE their training and racing. It's our perspective. We are always comparing our pace to other runners or how far we run to how far others run. Perspective can keep us from attaining our goals and from living a healthy life with running as an integral part.
Since working out with the Striders SMARTies last Thursday, my perspective has changed. Coach Steve said something to me after the workout that I've been thinking about a lot and I believe it can be revolutionary to new runners. He said something to the effect of, "Vic, now you've just worked out for 90 minutes with a group of sub-4 and sub-3 marathoners and you fit right in." He said more but this gets straight to my point. How did I fit right in with this group? How can a just-been-running-for-6-months, 15-minute-miler, never-run-a-marathon, overweight, inexperienced runner fit into this group? What makes me like them? What is this great equalizer? The great equalizer is effort! Did you hear that? EFFORT!!! What a revelation. What a revolution. I put forth the same effort that the rest of the group was putting in. They knew it and I knew it.
So I would suggest that new runners as well as experienced runners look at training with this perspective. When comparing yourself to other runners, when trying to find where you belong, when placing yourself in groups, understand that it's the effort you are putting into a run that is important. Effort is what defines the effectiveness of a training session. If I walk/run 3 miles at a conversational pace and it takes me an hour, that's the same effort as Bill running 6 miles in an hour at a conversational pace. I don't have to quit just because there are faster runners out there. I'm training at the same effort as all those runners. Good for me!!
Note to self...Don't get discouraged. Don't quit. Don't set yourself up for failure by having the wrong perspective. Put forth the effort. Purpose each training session. The next time Speedy Gonzales flies past you talking casually to a friend and barely breathing hard, just remember. You're running at the same effort that Speedy is. You are both runners!