Why Am I so Slow at Running?

When you are running do you ever think…

"Why am I so slow?"

These 5 little, but powerful, words can be really de-motivating. They show a sense of disappointment and frustration, and a general feeling that "Ok I’m running, but not as fast as I should be".

Many beginner runners and even experienced runners think things like…

"Am I kidding myself here? I can’t run, I’m too slow"

"How can I be a real runner? I’m too slow to be classed as a runner"

The problem here is that people have a vision of what a runner should look like and compare this to how fast they should be running themselves.

They think that runners should be slender, graceful, and float along. They should make it look easy and run almost without effort.

It’s true that very experienced runners can make running look quite easy compared to how you see yourself as a runner…

But remember that they’ve been running for years. They’ve trained consistently over a long period of time and built up a high level of fitness and running ability.

Can you expect to run anything like these experienced runners after maybe days, weeks, or months running?

So yes, you should be slower than these runners, but let’s also have a look at the other end of the spectrum.

When you ask "Why am I so slow?" what I want to ask is "Slower than who?"

Ok, so you’re slower than people who have been running for many years. That’s to be expected.

However, remember that most other people don’t run or do any exercise at all. A walk to the car or a walk around the supermarket is the most exercise that the majority of people do.

So even if you’re a total beginner you’re already, or soon will be, faster and fitter than the majority of the population.

Most people can’t run a mile so when you can do this you’re already well ahead of most people, no matter how long it takes you.

Everybody starts out at their slowest ever running speed, but if you keep developing your running ability then that’s the slowest you’ll ever be. Everything gets better from here onwards!

Even the best runners out there started with a very basic level of fitness and were much, much slower than they are now.

So try to accept your current running speed and fitness because that’s an accurate picture of who you are right now. It’s based on things like your weight, running experience, diet, and lifestyle.

You are NOT too slow. You are the right speed based on your current circumstances.

As you lose weight and improve your running ability you will naturally become much faster because you’re developing a healthier and fitter body.

So enjoy the journey and don’t worry about your speed. You will get faster, and always remember that you are a runner no matter what speed you run at!


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18 Responses to Why Am I so Slow at Running?

  1. karen cole says:

    thanks for that—that is exactly what I say to myself and husband all the time—I am too slow. My brother told me that if you run slower than a 10 minute mile you might as well be walking—-very discouraging comment

  2. Dana says:

    I too needed that! I am slow so what! I was a smoker for 24 years and boy was I outta shape. I know that I am not slow and for my age and past life style I am better than most. It helpped that today I read this after hear the same ” more than 10 min a mile”! People who say that stuff are envious of me and want to knock me because they wont TRY and I will! Fast or slow I am gonna run it feels good and I am looking GREAT!

  3. Kim says:

    Yes thank u very much…. i was actually walking 5/6 miles ph this morning thinking…. yes it is pointless for me to run as i don’t really run much faster than this!! Back to my aim of running 2km a day as well as all the other fitness bits im doing…. now with more pride 🙂 x

  4. Cristal says:

    I just ran a 10 min. Mile and I felt amazing at 41. I am so glad I read this article. Thank.
    1 mile at a time

  5. James says:

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, I’m glad that you found it so useful.

    Some people will always try to knock you down and suggest that you’re wasting your time. It’s much easier for them to do that rather than look at their own life and take time and effort to make improvements.

    Keep up the good running and enjoy it. You are making a real difference to your physical and mental health, and that will have a great effect on anyone’s life.

    • John Woodward says:

      Hi James.
      Thanks for email.i have been running now for over a year and don,t seem to be getting any better,i ran 4 sprint triathlons last year and my times for 5 k were 30 mins.i would dearly like to get the time down to 25mins for the coming season.do you think it possible at my age to improve i am 75 years old.i go to the gym 5 times a week and train for 2 hour on each visit, if i train any more i seem to got lots of pain in my jounts.

  6. Mary says:

    THANK YOU! Just what I needed today. I suggest anyone who has thoughts like “Why I am so slow” should find a good motivational mantra. When negative thoughts creep in (especially during a run) stomp them out with your positive mantra. Self-love is good medicine.

  7. Amber Saeed says:

    Love to read your comments James.Thanks for sharing.

  8. liam says:

    thanks james this is what i needed i have been running for about 2 1/2 years now and am wondering is there anything i can do to improve my performancce etc.?

  9. Amanda says:

    Hi I’ve been following James now for a good few years and was up too 6 miles but due to my job and family problems I stopped running for a several months but have started again, I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to run 2 half miles straight off although it took me 30mins very slow, I do feel it works for me and I found I lost more weight and didn’t bulk up by doing this which I didn’t want, I must say at the age of 48 I do need an extra rest day but I’m happy with that. Cheers James for all your advice and help and all the best everyone keep on running. Amanda

  10. Mike says:

    Still only walking, but walking a little faster each time – down to 16 minutes per mile from 20. I will run a mile one day this year, even at my advanced age

  11. james rowlinson says:

    i run 5 times a week. around 4.1 miles each time. i eat healthy all week . maybe have a few beers and takeaway on a saturday. i dont seem to be loosing weight. this is very disheartining for me. can anyone suggest anything to help me. thanks jim

    • MC says:

      I’m certainly no expert, but I tend to lose weight when I eat more. Sometimes we are so conscious of what we are eating that we often don’t realize that we are not eating enough calories (even with the beers :)). Try upping your calories and see if you see some changes.

  12. Yanyan says:

    Thanks James, when I started running a year and a half ago, I ran 3.5miles/per hour and now I run 5 miles/per hour. I am following your training plan and I am doing so far so good now.

  13. MC says:

    This was what I needed to hear as well. I’d just said to myself the other day: Ran, walked, or crawled… a mile is a mile! When I started running, it wasn’t much faster than what I could walk (about a 15 min mile); now I’m down to about 12:30/13 on good days. I finished my first half marathon (St. Jude’s) back in December in 3:00:42 and will be doing my second one in March. I refuse to let others speak negativity into my life and what I’m trying to accomplish. I just keep my body moving! however slow others may consider I am!
    To the rest of you, keep up the good work! Thanks James for those needed words.

  14. James says:

    Hi everyone and thank you for your comments and sharing your experiences.

    The benefits that you can get from running can make such a big difference to your life.

    It doesn’t matter at all how fast or slow you run. Just keep trying to improve with your running and the fitter and healthier you become the more of the great benefits you’ll experience.

  15. Nicoleta says:

    I also heard this (about me being too slow to run) and it made me mad and I thought how discouraging. It didn’t make me want to stop I was just mad mad mad =)