Speed Vs. Endurance?

I had a really good seven-mile run today. I walked a bit to warm up, then stretched, then walked some more, and it helped with the shin splints. I wasn't completely pain-free as I ran, but I wasn't limping as I have been recently, either.

I think I made peace with running today. I met my speedy friends for, you guessed it, speed work. I used to kind of like speedwork, but not so much lately. Or maybe I just don't like sucking at it. Either way....

We ran a two-mile warm up from the YMCA, two miles of alternating 400's and 800's on a straight, flat stretch of road in a residential area, and then two miles of cool down as we returned to the Y. As usual, I was bringing up the rear, but when I looked at my times, I realized that for me, they weren't that bad. Not bad at all, actually.

After we got back to the YMCA, I had a little more time before they kicked my kids out of the childcare (two-hour limit), so I hopped on the treadmill for another mile. My friend couldn't believe I was running another mile since we were all pretty spent. But I had another mile in me.

I think that's when the BIG PICTURE kind of came together for me. It's not me against anyone else when I'm running, it's me vs. me. It doesn't matter if I'm the slowest in my training group. And I also realized, I ran a FREAKIN' MARATHON six weeks ago. I may not have speed, but I've got endurance.

Endurance definitely is the less glamorous of the two. Speed gets all the glory. But there's something to be said for being able to run long (albeit slowly). It's really amazing that my almost forty-year-old body even held up through the training, much less the 26.2. So, I'm going to stop being so darn hard on myself. I may not be fast, but I can run farther than I ever dreamed I'd be able to.

I'm going to sign up for a 5K at the end of June just for fun. I'm going to try not to put pressure on myself to PR, but to just get out there and enjoy the experience.

After that, in mid-July, my training for my fall half marathons (October 18 and November 7) and full marathon (December 5) will begin. I've got to get my head on straight before then. I think today was a step in the right direction.


Lisa said…
Ha, I could've written this too. We must be thinking alike today.

I've accepted that I will never be like those runners whose blogs I read. I have to admit though that reading running blogs has made me want to be more competitive and sometimes I have to ask myself, "what am I doing this for?"

I compete against only myself and am totally happy with that. As you said, I've run farther than I ever dreamed possible and the fact that I even run is almost a miracle in and of itself. I'm okay with my slow paces, although I'd like to improve just a bit ;)

I know I'll never win a race or my age group. Being a middle of the pack runner is okay and it's a lot more than most people can do.
Bethany said…
I like your post! Keep up the positive thinking and good job on your speed work...those two words just scare me to death. :)
tamara said…
Oh, it's everything in life - not just running... we are constantly trying to measure up to everyone else. Like I tell my almost 8 yr old son on the baseball field - just do what YOU do. It's not about the glory or how you look while doing it; it's who can finish the game. I am just impressed by any runner I see out there actually doing it - I know how hard it is!!
KiwiAtHeart said…
I totally agree. I started running 3 1/2 years ago. I've run quite a few races including my first full marathon in April. I don't have the speed at all. But that's okay! I can go the distance, and I feel great.
Mama said…
Great realization! I'm with you, I may not be fast, but I can keep on going and going and going...

Glad you are feeling better about your running.

MCM Mama
Cyndi said…
I agree! As another 'adult onset' athlete, I think endurance is much more rewarding than speed! Yes we all want to be faster, hell I'm still trying to get to a somewhat 'average' pace! Not even to be fast, but to make more efficient use of my running time! I would love to knock out an 'easy 5' in 50 mins...but no, it takes me 65 minutes...'Speed' will improve over time, but at my age (almost 42), I'm pretty damn impressed at how quickly I built my endurance to 13.1! No shame in that!
I've decided that I don't mind being slow either. Sure, I'd like to be able to keep up with the other girls in the group but, I enjoy saying "Yeah, I ran 5 (or whatever) miles this morning." I think people are more impressed with distance, honestly. Never have one of my non runner friends asked me "how fast did you run?" until after they're impressed with my distance first.