A tortoise

August 2017 - Feeling Slow

The Question

This question is from Anna, who isn't feeling particularly speedy:


“I'm really struggling. I know everybody is meant to be slow when they start running but I'm REALLY slow. I tried joining in with a local group and although they were very kind and a couple of runners stayed with me at the back I just felt like I was holding everybody up. I know I'll get fitter with more training but for the meantime is there anything out there for true beginners or is it something I just have to put up with?”

Phil's Answer

Phil - running coach
Phil - Marathon coach and parkrun fan

“Most clubs are very beginner-friendly. Although you may feel like you're holding people up it's quite likely that those same people remember exactly what it was like to be a beginner as well. Runners are generally a friendly bunch of folk.

Have you considered track training? Lots of beginners are put off the track because they think it'll be a group of super-serious athletes who have no time for beginners. I promise you that's not true!

And a massive benefit of track training is that everybody is running fractions or multiples of 400 metre loops. This means it doesn't matter how fast or slow you're running, you won't be far from other runners. So, you can go at your own pace yet still train in an environment with other people who will be very happy to do their best to include you and offer lots of useful advice.”

Simon's Answer

Simon - running coach
Simon Loughran - Middle-distance runner and UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and Athletics Coach

“It can be tough as a beginner, and I agree with Phil that most runners will be happy to ease back and help a newbie out.

Have you checked whether or not there is a local parkrun nearby? They've recently introduced the idea of a "tail walker" at all runs. This is a person whose job is to basically walk the 5k course behind all other participants. So, no matter how slowly you run (or walk) you are guaranteed not to be holding anybody back or to be last to cross the line.

It's important to continue running at a pace that is comfortable for you. You'll be most successful with your running if you enjoy it, and feeling like you're struggling all the time won't help.”

Our Member's Answer

This answer is from Neil, who's not been running long himself and has some advice:

Neil - fresh out the pot

“Can somebody who has been in exactly the same position as you not too long ago offer some advice? I started running to help lose weight, but embarrassingly realised I couldn't run much faster than I walked.

I recruited some friends - with whom I was brutally honest - to come with me on runs. We had a rule that rather than "running" we'd make the occasion a sociable affair with a bit of walking, a bit of running, and then back to a nominated person's house for post-exercise tea (and the occasional cake).

What's great about this is that most of the group got the running bug and stuck with it. We're all getting fitter (and faster) as a result. But we stick to the format of the run and our big rule is that the group travels at the pace of the slowest person there.”

Thanks, Neil. Great advice and hope you continue to get speedier.

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