Are Slow Runners Real Runners?


Yesterday, I saw this article from the New York Times  circulating on Twitter and couldn’t stop thinking about it. [Full text here.] It discusses whether or not slow runners are essentially “ruining” the sport of running, specifically as related to marathons.


Granted it’s circa 2009, but I wanted to share it with you all because of the strong reaction I had to it….and my reaction was probably due to the fact that I’m about to run my first half marathon in 11 days (but who’s counting) and have it fresh in my head how tough running actually is; I’m not one of those people who can just bust out 13.1 miles on a whim without serious mental strength or excessive sweat, never mind the constant fear of being injured for the umpteenth time. It takes effort, and the fact that I’m about to achieve something that’s been on my bucket list just about forever despite being thwarted by a number of obstacles in the past is not something I take lightly.

Now, I’m middle of the road (I think?) in terms of pace- not a speed demon, but also not pulling 11 minute miles. I’m of the mindset, though, that just getting off your sofa and lacing up some running shoes is a BIG freakin’ deal, and an accomplishment in and of itself. Half a mile, 10 miles, 50 miles – they’re all important and special in their own right, and to be celebrated. That goes for all workouts- just becoming active is important, and following through on what you start.

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you have to stop and walk every quarter mile, or if it takes you one hour to reach the finish line of a 5K. At least you tried and kept going.

I’m fine with cut-off times at races and could even see runners getting in a huff about people who walk the entire course versus running even a couple miles, but still. For anyone to call “plodders” not real runners or even suggest that the integrity of the sport is deteriorating due to the notion that anyone can complete a race is both insulting and unnecessary. Running is hard! And not to mention, even if you walk 90 percent of it, you still had to put in some training to reach the finish.

And now I’ll step off my soapbox. What do you think?


Share your opinion in the comments!

9 Comments on Are Slow Runners Real Runners?

  1. Katie
    August 14, 2013 at 6:17 AM (4 years ago)

    Love this! Running IS hard, and I think people should be applauded for just getting out and doing their thing. Slow or fast.

  2. Sophie @ life's philosophie
    August 14, 2013 at 8:01 AM (4 years ago)

    I agree! All it takes to be a runner is to run…no matter how fast, how far and how often. With running being SO personal, how can it be defined as anything more than that?? Great post!

  3. Tracy
    August 14, 2013 at 9:03 AM (4 years ago)

    This idea is totally ludicrous. You can raise your competition levels or have marathons that have cut off times if you want to race at a certain speed. No one should be discouraging slow runners!!!! I say to anyone who runs, walks, dances, or prancersizes… get out there and do your thaaaang!!

    • joelle
      August 14, 2013 at 10:10 AM (4 years ago)


  4. Kerry
    August 15, 2013 at 4:41 AM (4 years ago)

    I would never call myself a runner because I am so slow.. It’s more like a jog/easy run. haha!

  5. Sokphal
    August 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM (4 years ago)

    At least you are moving!

    Slow or fast, you are beating the person that is just sitting on the couch.

    Glad this was an old article. A lot has changed since 2009.

    On a sidenote, I was at a race where Dean K. was just hanging out. I had to figure out where I had seen his name from. He’s a really ripped, really tan man.

    • joelle
      August 19, 2013 at 10:36 AM (4 years ago)

      Haha too funny about Dean!

  6. Kristin Friedersdorf
    July 21, 2015 at 12:53 AM (3 years ago)

    Did you write this post for me?! haha I am definitely a slow but steady (but will never realistically win the race) marathoner. I have put in a lot of long training runs for those races and I’m damn proud of them.


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