Redefining Fast

Last year at this time I was clocking 9 minute miles on my training runs regularly.  I also PRed my half marathon distance by about 10 minutes {unoffish because I had to wait in the super long line to potty at mile 5}.  Then, after the marathon, and a slew of soul crushing races leading up to it, I just lost all my speed.  It was a combo of over training, under training, exhaustion and, frankly, not really caring that much.

This year, after not having a race every single weekend this spring I’m really, seriously considering taking time to in the next cycle to get fast.  With my fancy new goal in mind I sat down to sketch out my training.  And I started with run fast.  But wait, what, exactly, does fast mean?

You’re probably all like um, duh homeslice, fast is 7 minutes per mile or less.  Well, sure, I think every moving human being can appreciate how fast that is {especially over a 13 or 26 mile distance} but to someone that doesn’t run at all, or just started running, 10 or 11 minutes per mile is fast.  They can’t both be fast.  Can they?

I’ve spent a lot of miles recently considering what fast is.  I realized that fast, like so many things is relative.  But more importantly, like all important defining factors, it’s not so easily and obviously defined — at least for me.

Take beauty for instance.  Beauty is definitely one of those relative terms.  So a cactus compared to a pile of junk is beautiful, maybe, while compared to a rose might not be as beautiful.  My 10 minute miles not be fast compared to some of my Corral A rockin’ friends, but compared to my most recent runs, I might as well see about getting to the Olympic trials.

Beauty is also a personal thing, too.  It’s so much more to me than what something, or someone looks like.  Does it bring joy?  Does it have positive impact on people?  Is it kind, compassionate, selfless?  If any number of these are true — then it’s beautiful.  If a cactus or a rose or a pile of junk does any of those things, it qualifies as beautiful to me.  Similarly, were those 10 minute miles hard fought?  Were they trained for for miles and miles on the treadmill, running til you almost puke?  Are you proud of those miles?  Then they’re fast.

I think it’s important to redefine fast because it’s SO EASY to see other people running 9, 8 7 minute miles and make it look easy, effortless.  And listen, I’m not trying to explain away my penchant for skipping strength training and eating Cheetos for second breakfast {both things I know that are proven enhance/decrease one’s speed} but as I plan for my spring cycle after the marathons, I want to be aspirational and hardworking without getting completely down on myself.  Everyone needs running heroes and we all have speedy peeps we look up to.  But I’m certain that so many of us don’t allow ourselves any perspective.  That’s why I redefined fast for myself.  It’s also important to recognize our speedy idol’s personal journey to their version of fast and truly look up to them by experiencing our own speedy running journey, however we define it.

Now if only to get the Boston Marathon qualifying standards similarly redefined…

4 thoughts on “Redefining Fast

  1. Entirely Amelia says:

    It’s definitely relative and definitely a very personal thing!

    I used to run a marathon at a 7:12 pace. After transitioning, I lost 60-90 seconds/miles. My last marathon was an 8:35 pace and that was giving 100% of what I had to give. I had to learn a new definition of fast from what I used to know. It was difficult and took a long time to come to terms with. And this is all with running an extra day each week and 20% more miles.

    I used to run my slow-as-heck recovery runs with my wife while she was doing a tempo pace. Now, I can’t even keep up with her mid-tempo runs.

    But…it doesn’t matter. I’m happy as long as I’m pushing myself and improving over where I was yesterday/last week/last month. I’ll never be faster than I was in 2012, though, and that’s okay.

    • lnrbailey says:

      You’re so right. It DOESN’T matter. Fast is so relative. But let’s be real — you’re still hella fast and hella awesome. #truestory 🙂

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