I may be the only one who feels this way but I’m going to throw it out there anyway – when I run with other people, I feel like the worst runner in the pack. When I run by myself, I just listen to my body and do whatever feels good. No one is there to look at their watch and notice how slow I’m going, no one is there running two steps ahead of me trying to check their pace when they’d rather run faster. Ironically, I often run faster when I’m by myself too – maybe because I’m not constantly checking my pace and stressing.
Now – my good friends don’t mind running my pace. I’m not THAT much slower than them. Unless they are training for a key race, my pace is quite conversational and even enjoyable. But I still have this nagging voice in the back of my head that I’m slowing them down. Because 9 times out of 10 – they are running whatever pace my body can handle that day. In other words, if you run with me – I’m dictating the pace and I don’t mean that in a good way.
Last week I committed myself to a 10 mile race at the end of this month that’s labeled “challenging” and “hilly.” That pace-nag in my head? She’s in overdrive right now. I’m running a trail race when I’ve really only done one trail race in my life, so I’m nervous. I’m running hills and I only gave myself three weeks to do some sort of hill training. I’m meeting up with some fairly new running friends and we’re planning to go out to breakfast afterwards (yum!) but I’m stuck here with this little voice nagging me that they’re going to hate waiting on me. (And they will be waiting on me.) I even pulled up last year’s results for this race to see if I would be last (the answer: I shouldn’t be but I’ll be in the bottom third for certain).
Putting myself out there on my own is one thing. Putting myself out there with other people… well that’s when the pace-nag pops up and asks what the hell I was thinking. I’ve read through my race reports recently to remind myself of how far I’ve come. I am a determined runner and I know I’m up for this challenge. But knowing still isn’t enough to silence the voice.
Part of me is so excited to have a new challenge and to meet up with new friends for a fun Saturday morning. Because I really think the whole thing will be fun – hard – but fun.
The rest of me can’t stop listening to that voice. That voice that reminds me of my non-athletic stride and slow pace. I’ll see the people at the front of the pack on race day and feel like they’re rolling their eyes that someone like me even bothers to toe the line.