Embrace your pace: Stop saying you run too slow

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By Takia McClendon

In 2014, I came up with the idea to add a run club to City Fit Girls. It was a great idea but there was one problem - I knew NOTHING about run clubs. I may have done one or two organized group runs with City Sports but that's about it. The Wednesday leading up to our first meet-up, I searched the web to find out as much info as possible about group runs and found a very common theme - people loved the social aspect but hated the actual running. Why? Because a lot of people were left behind, felt intimidated when they couldn't keep up with the group and never returned.

Have you ever felt left behind at a group run? 

If nothing else, Kiera and I knew we didn't want to create anything like that. We figured there HAD to be a way to create a run club where everyone could enjoy the social aspect AND the actual running. So we implemented a rule: No runner left behind.

Two and a half years later, City Fit Girls continues to be an all-levels running group for women of all paces. Our group run leaders (myself included) are committed to our no runner left behind policy. As the group got bigger, we realized that it was becoming harder and harder to keep our promise so we had to add more leaders - one in the front, one in the middle, and one in the back so no one is left alone. 

I'm always excited to see women find our Facebook group, Instagram page or website. They learn what we're all about - a no runner left behind group that loves a good ice cream shop. They click the follow button in hopes to join us for a run or workout. Many of them show up ready to conquer the run but for others, something else sets in before they ever lace up their sneakers: doubt, shame, fear and/or social anxiety about their pace.

They ask themselves: "Am I too slow to run with this group?" "Will I be able to keep up?" "Am I a good enough runner?" 

If you're one of those people, take a deep breath and tell yourself that this has to stop. 

As long as you're comfortable running 3 miles, you are not "too slow" for the group. You don't have to apologize for your pace. You don't have to lead your introduction with "I'm a slow runner". Whether you run a 13 minute mile or a 7 minute mile - you're a runner. You will not be ridiculed, made fun of or shamed because of your pace - no matter how "slow" you think you are. 

The takeaway: Before you count yourself out of joining the group (or any running group), embrace your pace. Get out of your own head and stop worrying about what other people think (because they probably don't think anything). Remind yourself that as long as you're running, you are fast enough. Remember, we created this group with you in mind. When we say all running paces are welcome, we mean it. 

You may also like: An Open Letter to The New Girl At Run Club

City Fit Girls' all-levels group runs meet on Wednesdays at 6:30PM in Philadelphia. Click here for group run details. If you are still building up to running 3 miles, check out our 5K training plan (free download when you sign up for City Fit Girls' training newsletter). 


Takia McClendon is the co-founder of City Fit Girls. She's a shoe expert and manager at a running store in Philadelphia and a Certified Level 1 USATF Coach. Follow her online at @takiamcclendon. 

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