Following my recent foray into Twitter, with The Antisocial Runner, not personally, I was both surprised and slightly disappointed with the large number of people who are self conscious about running and their respective speed/pace. Maybe I was being ignorant before, because I most definitely understand it.
Whilst there are some runners who are self conscious about being seen whilst out running, the main issue appears to be largely online, with the social media aspect, particularly on forums such as Strava. What I’ve witnessed, is that people feel disheartened when they see someone running faster than they could possibly imagine, but call the workout “easy,” or quote that they are “not running very well” at the minute.
Whilst I understand where such feelings come from, running is such a relative sport and any attempt to compare yourself to others is a futile exercise. Age, sex and weight play a huge part, whilst you also have to consider what the other person is training for. Someone training for general fitness is going to be running at different speeds than someone training for a 5k. There’s also the BS factor. I’ve witnessed it myself, runners claiming that a run was easy because they want that pace to be seen as easy. There’s just as much ego and bravado on Strava as there are insecurities.
What I would ask anyone to do when they see someone else’s run and feel disheartened, is to ask yourself the question of who are you really racing? If you are genuinely competing against these people, then look at what they are doing that you are not. More speed sessions? Higher weekly mileage? The chances are though, that you’re not directly competing. There may be exceptions, but the likelihood is that you are running for your own fitness, and to improve on your own PB’s. If this is the case, concentrate on your own times, and don’t try to make comparisons with others. If someone posts a workout that you believe to be impressive, give them a kudos and move on. After all, us runners are a supportive bunch. And if you still feel disheartened, unfollow them. Nobody wants or needs avoidable negativity in their life.
My Strava feed is littered with runners far faster than me, with some “easy” paces quicker than my 5k race pace, but I follow them for inspiration and to offer support in their own goals.
Whilst on the subject of support, 99% of runners are more likely to offer support and advice than they are to issue abuse or ridicule (no research conducted, just in my own experience). So for those who are self conscious about running in public, ask yourself who you are self conscious about? If it’s other runners, don’t be, as they will be supportive of what you are doing regardless of your running style or how you look in running gear (let’s face it, none of us look that great during a session). If it’s non runners that you feel self conscious about, don’t be, you’re the one doing the exercise, keeping fit and feeling awesome, not them!