An open letter to “slow” marathon runners

Dear “Slow” Marathon Runner

I bet you can’t believe that tomorrow is the big day. The Virgin Money London Marathon 2017. You might be thinking “f**k, that came around fast!” You’re probably a bit nervous, a bit scared and a lot excited, all at once. You might be a first time marathon runner, or you might be lacing up for the tenth time. Funny how the mixture of pre-race nerves and excitement never fades though.

I did London in 2015. It took me well over 6 hours. 6:20ish, I think was the actual time. Not gonna lie, I found it tough. Despite the screaming crowds, the 20 mile mark of a marathon can be a lonely place. Especially when it’s taken you almost 5 hours to get that far and you know that so many runners are already relaxing in the pub and you’ve still got 10k to do. Smile, grin, pat yourself on the back. It’s okay. This is your race.

And that’s my number one piece of advice.

This is YOUR race. You do it YOUR way.

Maybe you plan to run the whole way, maybe you plan to “jeff” from the start. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does.

And my number two piece of advice?

Remember, speed is relative. Especially in a marathon. Stop describing yourself as “slow” in a negative way. What’s slow for one person may be someone else’s dream time. I want to chase down a sub 5 one day. I have 8 minutes to shave off my PB to do that. Some people consider that slow – likely sub 4 runners. But that’s okay. Speed is relative. We have our own goals, we have our own bodies. If you’re delighted with your time, scream it from the rooftops. Own it. It doesn’t matter what it is. Whether you complete it in 3, 5, 10 hours, whatever, if you’re proud of yourself, be proud. When someone says to you how did you do, don’t go “oh, I did it, but it was a bit slow in blah blah blah,” be proud of yourself.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t apologise for your performance.

You’re doing a marathon tomorrow. Own it.

You’re awesome. You’re a hero.



A “slow” marathon runner



6 thoughts on “An open letter to “slow” marathon runners

  1. I love this post- I have just started reading your blog, and I could not agree more. Completing a marathon is an amazing achievement and I think people who ask for the time you finished in often have no concept (eg they would be non-runners) and most runners would more likely ask how was it/ how did you feel/ were you pleased etc.

    1. Thanks for reading! Yes, it is an amazing achievement and I think we need to stop apologising for what we perceive to be slow or sub par. It’s still a marathon :)

  2. Love this! Speed is absolutely relative. My first marathon was 5 hours. I’ve improved that since then but I’m still proud of that first one because I know what went into it and I know how hard I had to fight to reach the finish. Unless you’re running world record pace, almost everything else seems “slow” – it’s all relative but the effort is the same. Those who are on the course for longer deserve respect as they’re sustaining that effort for much longer, and I’ve heard many a “fast” runner say they just couldn’t do that.
    Good luck to everyone running this weekend.

    1. Thanks Alison – totally agree! I’m so proud of my first, which does remain my PB. London was my personal worst, but I’m still proud. Every marathon tells a story and we should never apologise for that.


      1. Exactly. And I could probably tell you a story from every one of mine, whether
        I smashed it or struggled. Each one is an achievement I’m proud of and everyone who finishes a marathon should feel proud.

  3. I should have read this before running the London Marathon on Sunday. People can be so focused on time they don’t take into consideration that others have a different pace. Despite being “slower” than most marathon runners I still gave it 100% and that is all that matters. In the lead up to the day I also read tweets from someone stating that if you walk at any point during the marathon you cannot say that you “ran” the marathon. What rubbish! Every single person who completed; whether they ran the whole way, walk/ran the distance or walked the whole way should be proud of how they got there. It is the same distance, it is irrelevant how long it takes you to get there.

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