Confessions of a Middle of the Pack Runner

That's me in the Green jacket Photo by David Colby Young

I have a confession to make – I am not an รฉlite runner – that isn’t really earth shattering news to anyone.

Actually, I am not even all that good of a runner at the local level either – not much of a surprise here either.

But I run

While I am being totally honest, I am what most “competitive” runners would consider a “recreational” runner – I don’t race all that often (though I will race more this year than I have in a long time), for many reasons – but that is a different post.

Even though I haven’t raced very often I do run a lot and yes I run to get better at running – so no I am not a jogger (runner vs jogger – it’s an attitude, not a pace per mile).

I am strictly what could be considered a middle of the pack runner.

Why am I saying these things?

While most of the runners in the communities that I follow are great and supportive (online and real life), there are always a few who – to be blunt, look down their noses at those of us, who run slower or not as far as they do. This is not a rant on better runners or those who can run long, but just a gentle reminder to some of those faster runners, that we are runners too, even if we tend to delay your awards ceremonies a little.

I also want to make sure that everyone who reads “A Veteran Runnah” understands what I am – a middle to back of the pack runner, who is going to focus on having a lot of fun running this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

Age, injuries, my attitude and lack of ability have all contributed to this understanding. Yes I want to run faster and farther than I do now and of course I want to do better in my age group locally. There are also a few younger runners out there, who I know, that I would love to keep up with for an entire race and surprise them at the end (my competitiveness).

Unless of course I suddenly find some magic elixir that turns me intoย Hermes,ย theย Flashย or reverses theย aging processย – I know “not likely”, but I am ever hopeful.

I also know that I am not going to run as fast as a lot of the runners and now my main competition is myself.

Yes you work hard

Those of you who finish ahead of me – I know that you work your asses off to be able to go as fast or as far as you do.

The truth be told – I am jealous of all of you who can run like the wind or seem to be able to run forever. Those of you who can run those 40-50 plus mile weeks and throw in a sub 7:00 or 8:00 minute pace (or faster) on command for miles and miles, when I have to struggle pretty hard to go under 8:00 for more than mile nowadays or a relatively pain-free double-digit run is cause for a big celebration.

We work hard too

Middle of the pack runners are not lazy, mostly it just that we are more limited by genetics, injuries, age (yes aging plays its sadistic part), attitudes and an unwillingness to embrace the pain that comes with running faster and farther (even though many who run in the middle of the pack have our own pains that we endure to just run).

We train and run the best that we can, given our circumstances and abilities. However, instead of competing so much with other runners, we are training to compete mostly with ourselves and our own goals or dreams, which are usually very different from the others that finish so far ahead of us.

The reality is that

For most of middle of the pack runners, competing against ourselves is our main goal, if we are able to “beat” some people we know who are a little better than us – that is cool too.

Even front of the pack runners eventually end up as middle of the pack runners at some point in their running life, due to injuries, burn-out or age – if they continue to run long enough. They slowly sink farther and farther into the middle of the pack – sorry just the way it works, aging, injuries and changing priorities or attitudes all work to slow you down (it might take longer, but it eventually happens).

Those faster runners who look down on middle of the pack runners today – enjoy your time in the sun – just as Icarus did, but don’t fly too close ;-), so that when you eventually join us, it won’t be as painful a drop for you as it was for Icarus.

Middle of the Pack

To be labelled as a middle of the pack runner is not a bad thing. In fact considering the alternatives, I am damn proud to be included in this very select group of people who run, that are called middle of the pack runners. It means that I am still running ๐Ÿ™‚

We are out there doing the best we can and at the same time doing something we love – are you?

Think about it.

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18 comments on “Confessions of a Middle of the Pack Runner

  1. I love being a mid-pack runner but try to encourage everyone. It does not matter how fast, slow or how far someone runs. and every once in awhile we (midpack runners) coem up with a ribbon in our age divisions. Those that stick their noses in the air at us I really don’t want to know anyway, but I think runners as a whole are mosty friendly and like one big happe family

    • Like any family running has its prima donna’s and I just do with them, what I do with family members who act that way – ignore them as best I can. But I do love being a part of the running community and how supportive the majority of us are to one another, whatever ever our ability or where we are in the “pack”.

  2. Absolutely. The fact that we get up and run each day makes us every bit as much of runners as the elites out there. I celebrate tiny milestones and I’m happy to say that some of the more elite runners I’m friends with on Twitter cheer as loud as they can when I brag about those milestones. Rome (and a great runner) wasn’t built in a day and frankly, I don’t desire to run marathons…I just want to beat that little demon in my head who says, “You can’t do this.”

    • Meg you are one of the one’s out there that has shown you can “do it” and many of the faster runners are so supportive of our efforts, just as we support their’s. I just get tired of those with a I better than you attitude sometimes and mostly ignore them, but once in a while, they do bug me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I love this post, it is exactly how I feel.. no matter how much I train, I will always be a back of the pack runner ๐Ÿ™‚ but we defintily have more fun at the back and great camaraderie

  4. Mr. VR, I am not a labels guy, so if you say so, then ok, you’re a Middle of the Pack Runner. I don’t care, really. I do care that you run, which in reality motivates me to run too. Speaking of……the Marine Corps Marathon for 2012, has sold out! I got a spot. Now, I’m committed! ๐Ÿ™‚ My plan, to finish better than I did my first marathon last September, the USAF Marathon. Time this year, is a reach goal, and certainly more in the middle, perhaps a little better than average time. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your plans for next year…I intend to continue to remind you of, perhaps if I can muster it, race it with you, especially since I look at your times and know I have some catching up to do to keep up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Then we will be two retired service members still living life, as it should be, eh?! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Aaron please just call me Harold or Radar – Mr. retired fm both military and teaching and that label is one I don’t really miss – I am pretty informal ;-). I agree on the labels (let’s just say I did this post for a reason and leave it at that).

      Congratulations on the MCM score, it sold out fast didn’t it. Now you gotta start a blog or if you don’t want that, every so often guest post here and tell me/others how you are doing it, so I have lots of motivation for 2013. I have sneaking suspicion you will be able to catch me pretty easily, but I am still just a little bit competitive – damn old-style military training.

      Life as it should be, living life and having fun ๐Ÿ™‚

      • That’s fair Harold, and you can call me Smiddy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I have been contemplating a blog. Every time I consider it, I figure I need to start with how I got started and what put me on this track . Then I start to over analyze it and get distracted with family and work. I’ll give this some more thought though…finding the time to put down something coherent a few times a week might be tough. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Roger that on the life part! I’m working my second career now, and I have considered teaching as a third once I retire from this (high school physics). I am having fun…albeit hectic, which provides many challenges which are also fun. :p

        Yep, the MCM went quick! I won’t start training for it in earnest until May-ish. I have a 15k in two weeks (Mountain Goat, advertised as, “The Tuffest 15k in Illinois and Indiana”), a half on April 15, and another half (the USAF) on September 15, then the MCM (there is a couple of trail runs in there I have done in the past, but may forgo them, or do them as “training runs” instead of trying to get a personal race record. I’ll keep you posted…here or elsewhere, if I get a bit more ambitious with the blog thing.

        • Sounds good Smiddy :-). If you decide to start your blog let me know, I have a few opinion – which are like – well you know, but would be more than willing to help. Do the trail runs as longer training runs and most of all have fun training.

  5. Yay for middle of the pack runners! Thank you for this post. I honestly could care less if someone runs for fun or races. I just care that someone runs or is active. OK, maybe that’s because I’m not an elite runner ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW – I see you’ve made some changes on your site!

    • ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a feeling even if you were an elite runner, you would still be supportive of those who are not. Yes made a few changes and trying to make it more me, not just “professional” and monotonous.

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