I read Haza's post about running slow with much interest.
I have been both. In fact, I am both. I was a slow runner, and I have also been a fast runner. My verdict? Both running style, although produce different timing, give me the same feeling: a sense of achievement and pride.
To be honest I could relate both runner's school of thought. When I was running fast in a race, slow runners bothered me. Maybe not bother, but annoy. I was a young runner, all pride and prejudice, only knowing to pass people and to win. I felt that all my hard work of weekly hard sprints, fast tempo runs, and countless staircase drills were made fun of when I held the same medal my shuffling friends held. I felt that they didn't know the meaning of pushing hard, of not giving in to the cramps and side stitches. I had a friend who, in a middle of a race, stopped to take pictures of flowers. We both later posed with our medals.
Now, I'm a slow runner. Not because of my injuries; I was running slow even before that. I found out that I enjoyed running for hours without getting tired, without stopping. And the only way to do that is to run at a slow steady pace, never breaking the motion. And I've always enjoyed it. Prior to joining all these runs, I have not been doing serious tempo runs for about 3 years. It was all about, well, running. And when I joined big events, it appealed to me that now, I am the slow runner. I am the annoying shuffler who might have demoralized a hard-working runner.
It's a really humbling realization.
Now, I realized: Running slow does not defeat the purpose. A runner is someone who runs, regardless of their speed. Running have different effect on people; people have different running goals. Some run to vent out, many run to lose weight. Some run to find peace, and so on. In a race, all runners want to do is finish. And it doesn't matter when, but you've got to finish. When I was running in PBIM, I spent about 30% of it walking. The rest, I was running very very slowly. I was mad at myself; this was the first time EVER I walked in a race. I hated to be grouped with the rest of these runners who posed for pictures and gossiped on the way. An uncle, who had finished the race earlier and stood by the road, saw me limping.
He said, "Cramps?"
"No," I said, "Knee injury."
"That's awesome!" he exclaimed. "You're going to finish this race with injured knees. You persevered."
I said, "But I'm slow."
He only said, "Respect. I could never do this. What is time?"
I read an article about a race somewhere in the States where they give out Elite medals to runners who finished last in the race. It was the mastermind of an elite runner, who said that he can't fathom lasting that long in a race and still could make it to the end. Used to finishing a race in 2 hours, he is awed by the dedication the slow runners gave. He would have passed out from mental breakdown. It was the best kind of respect from the best kind of runners.
So runners of various finishing times: run the race. It's you against yourself, not anyone else.