Slow Running For the Win

I have been vindicated, you guys.

Ok, let me back up a bit, so as to explain that vindication: I’m a slow runner. Painfully — no, embarrassingly — slow. For years, I’ve been both appalled and slightly ashamed of the fact that I routinely average a 10:30 mile. I manage to do 11:00 if I’m tired. 9:30 if I’m feeling awesome. 8:30 if I’m in the best shape of my life and had a cup of coffee the size of a Winnebago.

After the Great Health Implosion of 2013 and the ensuing 14 months of bloat-inducing medication, my mile time slowed to such a plodding pace that I stopped referring to these forays into outdoor exercise as running and instead called them by a more appropriate name: lumbering.

As in, I’m going lumbering and will be back in 35 minutes or so. When I got tired, I’d start singing Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” in my head — but I’d change the lyrics to say Lumber on/Now’s the time/The time is now…

Meanwhile, when I read about all these amazing runners who can roll out of bed and bust out multiple 8 minute miles, I feel like the athletic equivalent of a manatee.

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BUT NO LONGER!

This afternoon I saw a column in the Times health section which said that slow runners have greater longevity than either sedentary people or fast runners. To quote the article:

Plodding joggers tended to live longer than those who were faster. And in fact, the people who jogged the most frequently and at the fastest pace — who were, in effect, runners rather than joggers — did not enjoy much benefit in terms of mortality. In fact, their lifespans tended to be about the same as among people who did not exercise at all.

The results suggest that the “optimal dose of jogging is light, and strenuous joggers and sedentary non-joggers have similar mortality rates,” said Jacob Louis Marott, a researcher for the Copenhagen City Heart Study and co-author of the study.

YOU GUYS. Today, I am vindicated. Today, I stand before you a newly-proud slow runner.

The timing of the article was perfect, too: the weather here has been too cold and miserable to run outside, so I’ve been either bonding with the treadmill or the elliptical lately. Today, though, presented the one shining reprieve in our weather pattern.

All week I’ve been planning to take advantage of today’s nice weather, so I went for a lumber. I lumbered on for 3 ¼ miles, plodding along with my 10:30 pace – but when other people sped past (and even when one dude passed me twice), my competitive side, which gets obnoxiously vocal when I’m doing anything sports-related, was quickly silenced. Instead, it was replaced by me imagining myself standing on a park bench and yelling, like a super-creepy self-proclaimed prophet who tries to preach to the masses without being fully coherent, “Yes, you guys are all way faster than me – but I MIGHT NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO BE ASHAMED ABOUT AFTER ALL! BECAUSE SCIENCE! SLOW RUNNING 4 LIIIIIIIIIFEEEEE!”

So, to any other joggers who enjoy running but are totally cool with their non-competitive pace, I say this: slow runners unite!

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Solidarity, my fellow non-competitive slow runners. We shall inherit the earth, possibly, if the results of that study are legit.