I find myself Googling the various aspects of running quite frequently these days. “How soon before a run should you eat?” “Does running on sore muscles do more damage?” “Symptoms of overtraining.” “10Kato reviews.”
Sometimes I find the results quite helpful. But most of the time, what tends to come up is information from “serious runners.” These are folks hitting 100 miles per week. I didn’t believe it at first, but seriously, there are people out there who run 70 to 100 miles per week. These are the folks who run marathons, who conquer hills akin to Glenwood Avenue daily, and then probably circle around to do it again for good measure.
Whenever I see people like this answering questions and discussing running on forums, it always leads me to wonder what kind of runner I am. Am I even considered a runner at all? If these peeps are running 6- to 7-minute miles over the course of 10 miles EVERY SINGLE DAY, and I am spending almost the same amount of time shuffling along for 4.5 miles, can I even use the word “run”?
This question led me on an intriguing chain of web clicks involving search terms such as “slow runner,” “12-minute mile,” and “slogger,” which is a less than flattering combination of the words “slow” and “jogger.”
Then I found it. In the depths of cyberspace was a lovely little forum titled “Calling All Penguins.” Dozens of other runners just like me, who had been trying to find out if there were other slow runners like them, had converged in this little web space to say, “Hey! I really like to run! It’s fun! And that’s really the only reason I do it ... and at a very slow pace, at that.”
Most of these users claimed mile paces of 15 minutes or more -- just barely chugging along. Some even had a collection of “finisher’s medals,” from the various 5K races they had taken part in for the fun of it. A 5K took some of them almost an hour to complete. But like me, these folks were not looking to break land-speed records. The act of running is what they were in it for, and they were happy to find others who weren’t interested in marathons or even half-marathons.
I will admit, reading the comments of people running 16-minute miles made me feel oh-so much better about my 12-minute mile pace. But mostly I felt happy that there’s a community out there of slow-pokes like me who have given an adorable name to the kind of runners we are: Penguins!
So here’s to us penguins, shuffling through a neighborhood near you, probably feeling as good about our 3-mile run as the careers are feeling about 10.