The Need for Speed


When I started running I started buying running magazines.

They frequently contained sentences along the lines of “running at a fairly easy 9 minute mile pace” which made me snort, and then feel like a failure as I looked at my Nike+ stats average of 10’40” a mile.

Quotes from an assortment of blogs.

9 minute

9 minute1


I’ve since bought my lifetime average on Nike + down to 10’15”. On some short runs I’ve made it under a 9 minute mile, but generally I hover around the 9’45” mark. So after 10 months of running, a 5k and 2 10k races and a total of over 350 miles run, I still feel like a failure.

This Sunday I am running the Trowse 10k, I’m looking forward to it (as long as it doesn’t snow), but from the moment I signed up I’ve been quite keen to run it in under an hour. This is looking increasingly unlikely. In February life got in the way of doing much training, and March hasn’t been much different. There’s been a lot of travel, working till 5pm then driving 150 miles to a new place and repeating the procedure for most of the week doesn’t leave much time for running, then I had a sickness bug which put me out of action for almost a full week.

Then last Thursday I went out for a 5k run, just to check I still could after being ill, I was starting to feel a bit stressed about not having trained for the 10k and not doing it as quick and hitting my goals, then suddenly I thought.

Why do I care?

I run because I enjoy it, I run because it keeps me fit and I run because I love the feeling of running. I’m 33, I’m slightly overweight, I’m self employed, I travel a lot and I have a busy job that frequently involves working odd hours, including evenings and weekends. I’ll never be the fastest or the fittest, my life just doesn’t allow for that. I make an effort to fit running and other training in because I enjoy it and because I want to be fitter, but its part of my life, not my whole reason for being.

So why do I care if I haven’t racked up enough miles this month or I’m not running as fast as I somehow feel I should?



If I only manage to go running 3 times in March, who’s going to tell me off? If it’s dark, cold and rainy and I decide that staying home with a hot chocolate is far more fun will I be in trouble? If I only ever run 10:30 miles, who cares? I’m fairly certain you don’t. The rest of my family is frankly astonised every time they see me in a pair of trainers and most people have no idea what constitutes a “fast” mile or a “slow” mile. There’s no place in Rio waiting for me, and I’m certainly not expecting to be on the winners podium, so what does it matter how quickly I finish, as long as I do.

When I spend my time reading blogs and magazines the focus is so often on longer, further, faster and more. Till in the end the reason I was so happy when I discovered running is completely lost in the struggle to make sure I’m hitting some imaginary target that will make me a “runner” and mean I belong alongside all those serious looking skinny people in singlets and shorts, while I’m wearing lipstick and mascara to run in.

Part of the fun is improving and setting a new challenge. But that’s not the whole story, some of the fun is that feeling that you CAN do it. Sometimes I’m astonished to think I’ve run for a whole hour without stopping when less than a year ago 2 minutes seemed insurmountable, I feel on top of the world, strong and unstoppable and it’s an amazing feeling.

The fact is that if running stops being fun, eventually I’ll stop doing it, and trying to force myself to stick to a schedule that doesn’t fit my life, or go faster than my short, fat little legs really want to will surely stop it being fun quicker than anything else.

So I’ve decided that I DON’T CARE!

If I run 10k in 50 minutes or 90 minutes, if I only manage to run once this week because of travel, and late night working, if I stop and walk up that stupid steep hill at the end of my route then so be it.

As the weather warms up and the nights get lighter maybe I’ll run more often, maybe I’ll run further. Maybe I’ll run slower beacause it’s hot, or faster because it’s cold. When I have more time I’ll fit in those speed sessions, and when time is tight I’ll go for a slow run that’ll make me feel amazing.

What matters is that I run, and that it feels fantastic.


19 Responses
  • Steph
    March 25, 2013

    Good for you! I’ve always said about my running is that I don’t care what speed I do it in as long as I do it! Good luck for your 10k and just concentrate on enjoying the atmosphere

  • Heather Leonard
    March 25, 2013

    I totally hear you on this, I always wonder how fit someone has to be for a 9min mile to be an easy pace! I went along to see about joining a local running club and they only accepted runners who could run at 8min or under per mile. Madness!


    • Lady Lipstick
      March 26, 2013

      8 minutes or under! I won’t be joining a running club then 😀 I think my fastest ever mile is something 8:37 and I still think that’s a Nike+ anomaly!

  • Emma Cossey
    March 26, 2013

    This is why I love your blog! So often on other blogs, it’s this ‘go hard or go home’ harsh mindset, that quite frankly scares most new runners off. Exercise should be fun, not this stressful activity where we’re constantly pushing ourselves to be the best, rather than just enjoy it. Isn’t it enough that we have to deal with that mindset in most of the other areas of our lives?

    Er, *rambling rant over* 🙂

    • Lady Lipstick
      March 26, 2013

      I know, that makes me want to cry! I don’t want to run so hard I’m sick! Pushing yourself a bit is part of the challenge, or otherwise I’d never have got past running for a minute and walking for 3 minutes, but it has to be enjoyable surely! Misery isn’t something I want in my free time, I get enough of that every day 😉

  • Kirk
    March 26, 2013

    brilliant, blog x

  • Cat
    March 26, 2013

    Loved reading this! I am currently beating myself up about not going running as I had to work to 11pm last night then up again at 6 this morning with toddler! After reading this, i think i will be kind to myself and allow myself a slip this week even if that means I don’t manage to make my next 10K in under 1hour 10 (it would be an achievement for me!) Just making it will do for me this time!

  • Emma
    March 26, 2013

    Hear hear!! Can’t remember where I read it first (probably Pinterest!) but “You’re still lapping everyone sat on the sofa.” really helps me to keep it in perspective, it really doesn’t matter at all – just get out there and do it!! xxx

  • Katie
    March 26, 2013

    I love this post!
    When I first started a few years ago I really, really struggled to get to a 10 minute mile – I honestly never ever thought I’d run a 30min 5km…A few years on I take the same view as you..If I manage 3 miles in the 8’s then that’s ace but If I enjoy myself and run in the late 9/10’s so what? I jogged a couple of 35min 5km’s with my sister who’s a newbie this year and we had such a nice time just chatting, moving and being out and about which is what it’s really about 🙂 xo

  • jools3303
    March 26, 2013

    Hahaha, this made me chuckle. After approx 4-5 months running( with a break for medical reasons of 5 weeks)….I can just about do a 12 min mile!!! I used to be able to run for about 1 minute, now I can run for 30 mins at a time (slowly ;-D) I know what you mean about reading too many running mags and forums! I guess however slow you proceed, there is always someone ahead of you, which means there is also always someone behind you! I’ll keep chasing you metaphorically because you are a down-to-earth and honest runner, great inspiration. x ,

  • abradypus
    March 28, 2013

    “Sometimes I’m astonished to think I’ve run for a whole hour without stopping when less than a year ago 2 minutes seemed insurmountable” – Yes! That’s it exactly.

  • hedwigia
    May 29, 2013

    Love this – I’m quite a bit older, started running in December, and have only once run 10k – and it took me 100 minutes (I think that’s about a 16 minute mile)! But I enjoyed it, and I’m much fitter for having started running. 🙂

  • doctorontherun
    June 24, 2013

    Yes! You have somehow managed to take my thoughts, assemble them into some form of coherence and write them all out beautifully.