Today a less positive post, but just something I really need to get off my chest. It might still be very motivational. It is about something that might help supporters, beginners or perhaps everyone. The question: what is your time? Today you can read my perception of this question and how I think about it.
What is your time? This is I believe the most frequent question people have ever asked me. They rarely ask: How was your race? The first question: what is your time? Gives the impression that only the time matters and if your time does not meet their expectations you might not be good enough.
Someone that might not be very fast can be afraid to answer and might come up with a lot of excuses, why they did not run the 5km within 30 minutes. I know, I did the same when I just started. Furthermore, this question can make you feel less good and you will start comparing yourself with others. This is not important to me at all.
What is your time? Gives the impression you should be faster than the others. It’s comparable with the so-called neighbor syndrome. When the neighbor buys a new TV, we will need to buy a better and bigger one. I might be the only one, but I think this behavior is not the right one. Running is something you do for yourself. Sometimes with others who have the same passion. But I believe if you are not planning to go to the Olympics or participate in a national race, then there should be space for fun and not so much pressure from other people.
It might sound like I am covering up my own slow pace because I am still not the fastest. I had some races where I ran a PR or a training where my pace and time were great. But it was not satisfying in the end. Of course, it would count, if suddenly I can not run a 5km in 50min, which I can normally do below 30min. But then I am still comparing my own times and not trying to live up to expectations of others.
With most of the people that are interested in my running adventure, I can be honest, but they rarely ask me about the time. It might come up in the conversations, but they won’t judge me. They know that I already did a lot of improvement and found my happiness in the runs. And I am very grateful for these people.
I am not saying that for every runner time is not important. Because we all want to be a bit faster than the last time and for the more sportive people we want to get on that stage. But there are a lot of different factors that count when it comes to race experience. The first races I was analyzing after my finish, where did it go wrong. Why was my pace increasing over time? Should I have done something different?
When my friends ask me: How was your race? They are asking about the full experience. How was the track? How were the people? The weather and how did I feel during the race? Was it hard, easy, motivational? And on this question, you can answer a lot of things. If you have run a PR you can even answer that. It is more open and beginners do not have to be scared that you might be judging them.
I have been running with my watch and without my watch and both I really enjoy. With my watch, I can control my pace better and with this control I know that I will be able to run longer. Without the watch I enjoy more the surroundings, the weather and the people around me. Without paying attention to the time, I feel that I can enjoy a run better. If I am having a good day, the pace is good, but I am still not fast enough and I will not be able to finish in my set time. This will put me in a pessimistic mindset and you will experience the race in a more negative way. If you are more open and set a goal that is not extremely hard to reach, you can enjoy the full experience a lot better.
Furthermore, I believe participating in a race already deserves a medal, not everyone signs up for a race. And not everyone reaches the finish line. Time does not matter; the distance does not matter in this case. The only thing that matter is that you made it. You have reached the finish and nobody can take that away from you. Because running a race is a battle, a battle of the mind versus the body. You will start off too fast, and your muscles might start screaming very early in the race that they are tired. But you keep on going, proving that you can do it. Proving yourself during your first race or every other race with a new distance, that you can do this. This is something you do for yourself. Fighting the thoughts of giving up, when the lactic acid is rising in your leg muscles. When you feel tired and the finish line is far ahead. You keep on going and you will reach it, no matter about the time. It is only about reaching the finish line.
For all supporters, friends of runners or even fellow runners, please consider what it might do to others when asking: And what is your time? Is the time really the most important factor? Or is the fun factor and the overall experience more important? I am nowadays lucky, by explaining some of my friends that I prefer to be asked: How was your race? Purely, because it will cover all aspects. And for myself, I can say: what was my time in the end? And does this match with how I feel? Does this make me feel less positive about this race? How important is the time for me?
After running 10 races this year, I can tell you, the time is not important to me. Reaching the finish line is. Feeling happy and proving myself that I am capable of anything when I set my mind to it. That is important. Helping our fellow runners when they are having a low moment. By just running with them. Even if I will lose some points in the overall score, I do not mind. Because I know that for them at that moment my words or my actions helped them.
Of course, I check my times from every now and then after a training. And I will compare them with the results that I started off with 2-3years ago. And I really accomplished a lot since then. Because I did not only become faster, I run longer distances or run in more hilly areas. I grew as a person, motivating someone else during a run. Being less focused on the time, but on the experience. Some might say it is bad, not caring about the time, it can give you less to fight for. But do I have to prove to others what I am capable of? No! I only must prove things to myself and do the things that make me happy. I do not have to prove myself to anyone else.
It does not matter if you can run 5km in 12minutes or you do 5km in 50minutes. When you start at a race line you deserve respect. Because a lot of others are not participating while having all these presumptions. Because 5km is not that far, right? But for everyone that is running this distance, it can feel like the longest run ever (even when you are experienced) or it can feel like walking in your pajamas at home. Every run feels different for a recreational runner and one can be better than the other. Without breaking any records.
I hope every supporter, runner and maybe other sportsmen can understand how the question can feel now. This is solely written in my own experiences and what it does to me.
How was your last race?