All My Friends are Faster Than Me and That’s the Way I Like It

My friend Hari likes to aggravate me by telling others:  She used to be so fastI never really was that fast, and I haven’t really gotten that much slower either. He’s the one who finally caught up with — and now runs faster than — me.

I did qualify for and run Boston two years ago, I used to regularly place in my age group in local races, and I even won second place in my age group at the Borax Death Valley Marathon last year. My bright, shining star of speed seems to have fizzled out this past year and a half, but I’m okay with that. I’ve discovered my one true love, trail running, and no one seems to care as much about my speed out on the trails.

When I run with the group on Saturday mornings I’m always in the back of the pack. I generally like to keep a 9:30-9:45 pace on those 10 to 12 milers, mainly to save energy for the longer Sunday trail runs which can entail up to six hours of running 20 to 26 miles at a time.

On those Saturday runs with the group, the majority of my friends are way ahead of me, running in the 8:30-9:00 pace range. Apparently, a new study shows that running with people faster than yourself is a good thing.

Dallas Marathon 2012

I see a lot of the back of people’s shirts when I run.

My old Garmin used to have a Virtual Partner that I could run against. I never once used it the entire life of the watch. Maybe I should have.

I prefer to use my friends to keep me fast. Running with my friend Susan is always a race to the finish, especially on the trails. Though she’s only a few years younger, she’s much faster than I am, and much stronger. My friend Hari turned vegan, dropped some weight, and grew a pair of wings on his heels. I always knew it was just a matter of time before he would run me into the ground. And Bionic Liz, who has pins in her leg from a stress fracture that took her off the course in her first marathon attempt, can stay ahead of anyone by sheer force of will.

My friends are good for me.

Trail running, a challenging weekly hill route, running five days a week, cooler winter temperatures, and increasing my overall mileage have all helped me to get faster again without really trying. That’s exactly the way I like it. If I have to work too hard at something, it takes all the fun out of it.

And if it’s not fun, why bother?


  1. iRuniBreathe

    You are certainly making sure you are having a lot of fun with so many races planned. Wow! Maybe you have changed your ways in liking the training more than the racing? You are definitely an ultra-runner now, no matter how fast or slow you go.

  2. pwhent

    Another great blog! I was interested in your comment about Hari losing weight and growing wings on his heels. I have been trying to fool myslef that I don’t need to drop some weight for a Half Marathon I am doing in March but I know the truth really. I am a comfortable weight for every day life but I think I am 10 lbs heavier than my running weight. I wouldn’t voluntarily carry five 2 lb bags of suger round a half with me, so it seems strange that I would race knowing I was carrying 10 lbs of weight I don’t need to. So I am steeling myself to shift them in the New Year. If I manage it I am hopeful I can run my fastest ever Half at the age of 53. I heard someone say once that if your Mother says you are looking well then you are 10 lbs over your race weight!! We’ll see.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Hari, who loves food of all kinds, turned vegan and quickly dropped the extra weight — and got much faster because of it. His doctor is amazed at his numbers now when he goes in for his yearly check-ups. I’m not overweight, but even I can notice the difference when I put on just 3 or 4 pounds. Love the quote about what it really means when your mother thinks you look well. I have another friend whose mother tells him she’s worried because he’s so thin, and he just ran his fastest marathon time ever (low 3:30’s).

  3. AndrewGills

    I agree. Running with my friends took me from being a struggling 5-7km runner to ultramarathon runner. They pushed me by forcing me to run faster if I wanted to hear their stories. I never once did speed work or tempo runs. I just ran with friends who were faster or ran longer than me 🙂 It’s going to be a while before I can run with them again. But I now have a new group of running buddies with whom I can complete the C25K with while I recover from injury. Perhaps I’ll be the person who runs slightly faster than them, encouraging them to unknowingly increase their speed. But as the faster runner, I get just as much out of running with them as they will from running faster. Because their company makes running fun 🙂

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I used to pace a group a few years ago, and I always told them, “We’re the group who can run and still talk to each other.” The faster groups push me to get faster, but the slighter slower groups were more fun!

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