I’ve gained a bit of a reputation lately. A reputation for being fast. Now I am by no means an elite marathon runner my marathon PB is currently 3:12:37 but I am hopeful of getting it closer to 3 hours. I am an ultra runner which means I like to run a really long way not particularly fast. However, what I encounter often when I am waiting for the start of a group run is that many people see I am running and are ‘scared’ that I am running with the group and that the run might be too fast for them. People have been worried that they will ‘mess up’ my training or say “I won’t keep up” and drop back.
Now rest assured when I run with others or an organised group I am always mindful that not everyone runs at the same pace. I accept that I will might need to run slower and almost always will be running with the group purely for social reasons and plan to adjust my pace accordingly. In fact I often deliberately seek out a group run to ensure I run ‘easy’. Too often when training alone I push the pace or run too fast when I should in fact be in recovery and run slower.
Not all training runs should be run hard but the competitor in me is often unleashed when I run on my own. I find myself chasing down the cyclist going up a hill or picking off other runners as I make my way around the river, I am less likely to play these mind games when I am cruising along with someone else.
Now I also realise that my ‘easy’ pace may be ‘hard’ for others but sometimes this is good and works for both of us. By running with me you may be running faster than you would have had you been alone and I am forced to run slower therefore I get the much needed recovery I need. It’s a win-win situation.
On long runs it’s usually not the pace that matters but ‘time on the feet’. In actual fact most of my training plan contains sessions based on time not distance. While I like to run a certain distance in training (lets face it, who hasn’t done laps of the carpark, laps of the oval or run around the car to finish off that final kilometre) as long as I have done the scheduled time the distance doesn’t really matter.
So, if you see someone in the crowd you know is pretty talented runner waiting for the start of a group run don’t freak out, they will usually have a good sense of the each runners ability in the group and are willing to slow down. If it’s me I may even be in recovery from one of my stupidly long events and it’s a good chance to catch up, ask me questions about my experience and if you feel the pace is too fast say so and the pace is likely to be adjusted accordingly.