I am one of the runners that you don’t typically hear about. I don’t win races or place in age groups. I sometimes finish the race dead last and even after the course time limit. I can barely run a full mile without stopping to walk. Running a full mile is a rarity in my world. I can count on one hand the number of times where I have run that nonstop mile.

I am the opposite of the elite runner. I am a slow runner. A proud slow runner. Elite runners have a fairly clear-cut definition, if you run a certain pace, you are considered elite. If you win races and break records, you are considered elite. But slow running is in the eye of the beholder. I have encountered runners who think 10:00 minute miles are tragically slow, and I’ve met runners who think that 13:00 minute miles are lightning fast.

I am a fairly healthy 33-year-old, 5-foot-tall woman and I am a slow runner. I have had five knee operations, I have suffered from exercise-induced asthma and I have a heart condition causes my heart to become highly ineffective when my heart rate rises. When it comes to my heart, the harder I work out, the harder it is for me to work out. Over the last year and a half, I lost 40 pounds and my pace changed by 30-60 seconds per mile, even with my medical conditions. With my heart and knee, I am thrilled that I am faster!

I don’t care that I will never win a race or place in the top five in my age group.

I don’t care that I start at the extreme back of the starting line.

I don’t care that I get passed, even by walkers.

The best thing about runners is that no matter what your body looks like or what your age, everyone runs differently and almost everyone can run. I get passed by people who are easily 200 pounds heavier than I am or 40 years older than me. They are flying through the course and I am already walking at that point. I have feelings of envy when I see runners pass me and I think that we runners all feel that way from time to time. I have the thought that I should be faster than they are, but then my common sense kicks in and I remember my medical conditions aren’t written on my back for all of my passing runners to read. And the same goes for them, I don’t know their history, so who am I to judge? They each have their own pace and they are out there giving it their all.

When I have a bad run or finish close to last in a race, I always remind myself that it’s okay.

My pace is my business.


By Nichols