Friday, January 29, 2010

The advantages of being a slow runner . . .

In the last year or so, I have become increasingly aware of the multiple advantages of being one of the runners at the "back of the pack."  In my earlier years I was a "mid-packer," running marathons in 4 hours or so.  I knew things were different for me then the guys and gals at the front, but the differences weren't all that evident.  But in the last few years, my pace has been slowing considerably.  Most of you faster runners just don't know what you're missing!  Here are a few advantages of slowing it down . . .

  • For me and my "back of the pack" buddies, a "day of fun" stretches out sooooo much further!  As a front runner in a marathon, a front runner only gets to run 2 1/2 hours, or maybe 3 hours . . or maybe even 4 hours.  But my buddies and I get to continue on at least another hour and half!  And races don't even charge us for all the extra fun!
  • In fact, races actually reward me for running slow!!!  If a marathon entry costs $100 and you only run 2 1/2 hours it cost you 66 cents per minute to run.  But for us "back of the packers," the price drops to 28 cents per minute . . . a discount of almost 58%!!  This is HUGE!  So . . . running for us "back of the packers" is much more economical!
  • We get a greater opportunity to develop our pain tolerances for much longer durations.  I'm sure it must hurt to run a 50k in 4 hours . . . and that is quite an accomplishment if you do that!  But imagine the feeling of of accomplishment you would have if you continue on and endured the pain for twice that long!  (Hope this doesn't sound like bragging!!).  I would even run slower to develop even MORE tolerance, but race directors seem to be trying to limit how good us slow runners can become by instituting the dreaded "cut-off" times, meant to limit our fun and somehow limit our pain-tolerance development.
  • As a "back of the packer" I've learned to be VERY flexible and self-sufficient!  Front runners NEVER have to deal with comments like, "Sorry, but we ran out of gels about an hour ago . . . maybe they will have more at the next stop!"  (By the way, the next stop NEVER has any either!!).  And it becomes even more exciting when all the fluid are gone and you still have 30 more minutes to endure . . . er . . 30 more minutes of fun to enjoy!  At my last 50k race (where I was the last runner . . . but still beat the cut-off by 30 minutes!) they had: 1) packed up all "eats", 2) had run out of gatorade and 3) had two, four ounce cups of water waiting on me!  You "front runners" never get to practice your patience and flexibility like this!
  • Also, as a "back of the packer" I learned to be appreciative of the little things!  Like at this same last 50k race, they ran out of finishers awards . . . but managed to scrape up something to present me with at the finish line.  I really did appreciate the extra effort . . . they could have just had nothing!  At another race, they presented finisher with special finisher shirts . . . but unfortunately they had run out by the time me and ":my buds" finished!  Heck . . . we've already got plenty of shirts!
Now I'm not trying to "knock" you fast folks.  I'm sure you still enjoy your runs too!  And I believe there is a place in running for you.  But I have to admit, I can't help but have a certain feeling of superiority . . .


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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.