5 Reasons Why It’s a Good Thing to be in the Back of the Pack
Whether your body moves at a slower speed or you’re a new runner, you might find yourself in the back of most running packs. Despite what society may tell you, being in the back can actually be a really good thing! How can being a slower runner be a good thing you may ask?
Here are the top 5 reasons why it’s a great to be in the back of the pack.
1. You Get to Focus More on the Why
Why do you run? It is an important question. Steve Prefontaine, arguably one of America’s greatest running legends, once said, “You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.”
That quote is very relatable because regardless of pace, many runners experience those euphoric feelings of self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement when they run. And those positive feelings have nothing to do with pace; they are based on pushing your body to your limits. And your limits may differ from other (faster) runners.
It’s important to come back to the “why” every so often because too often we can get caught up in the numbers. What’s your pace? What was your time? What place did you finish? If the reason why you run in the first place doesn’t have anything to do with racing, but rather how you feel, then you need to forget the rest of the noise. Being in the back allows you to focus on the important aspects of your running.
2. Managing Expectations
Similar to the first reason, the second reason why it is good to be in the back of the pack is that it gives you a great position from which you can manage expectations. Faster runners can oftentimes get caught up in competitions on Fitbit or other apps, their place in a race, qualifying for certain events, and so on. You have the luxury of removing yourself from that. By letting go of society’s reasoning that “if you run, then it should be fast” you have effectively managed expectations. You don’t have to worry about being #1. Instead, you get to enjoy the ride.
3. Room for Improvement
It is important to remember that as a runner, you are a work in progress. And I’ll let you in on a secret: you never stop being a work in progress. One of the beautiful things about being a new runner, or about having a slower pace, is that there is room for improvement.
When you start changing up your workouts, when you start challenging yourself to run greater distances, when you start running on a consistent basis – that’s when you start to see progress. And progress can be very motivating. You have to start somewhere and the good news is, you’ve got plenty of room for growth.
4. Lessons to Learn
Running will teach you a lot about yourself and about the world. It will teach you humility. It will teach you patience. It will teach you self-love. And when you successfully complete a run, it will teach you gratitude.
Too often we get caught up in rushing through our “To Do” lists. So if a run takes you longer to complete, celebrate it! Going at a slower pace you have more time for self-reflection and these lessons.
You’ve accepted it: You know you will never win a race or qualify for the Boston Marathon. You are, in fact, a slowpoke. Which leads you to realize you have time to socialize!
Running can be a very social sport. At the back of the pack, you can focus on those connections. And be appreciative of the fact that you can catch up on the latest gossip rather than what your watch is telling you.
The reality is, there are plenty of runners who are not very fast. So, if you have held off on joining a running club or on trying to find a running partner, don’t let those negative thoughts hold you back any longer! “Fun runs” hosted by local running stores can be a great place to get started. Running with others adds accountability. It can also add to the “fun factor” that other non-runners just don’t understand.
Another favorite Steve Prefontaine quote goes, “A lot of people run a race to see who is the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.” Do you run for the feeling of self-satisfaction running gives you? Do you run to see who has the most guts or if you can push yourself just a little bit farther?
Focusing on the “why” of running is an important benefit offered to those at the back of the pack. You can manage your expectations for running realistically. A large portion of runners will never run professionally. You’ve managed your expectations of why you are running and what you hope to get out of it. This leaves room for improvements, learning lessons, and socializing. And those are all great reasons to celebrate your place in the back!