Running is a very label-intensive sport.
Your gear needs labels – Asics, Nike, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony, Garmin, ProCompression, GoPro.
Your distance needs labels- half-marathoner, marathoner, ultra-marathoner.
Your accomplishments need labels – PR, PB, BQ.
Your actual runs need labels- Easy, Tempo, Fartlek, Speed, Long.
The sum of all these parts adds up to a lot of nothing, and a lot of too much, if you ask me.
I’m torn. I like all the labels — sue me. I like the brand names on my gear, I like when I PR and I like that I’m a #marathoner. The only label I’m not fond of is Easy.
I’m done with Easy running. I’m really done with “taking it easy” and I’m done with “easy pace”.
Running is not easy.
Running is a labored effort and pounds on your lungs, legs, brain.
I’m done with calling my runs Easy in order to validate my time. I am well aware that is completely counter-intuitive, and runs are labeled as Easy so that the runner doesn’t injured themselves – nobody can be 100% on 100% of the time. I get that — and I’m not implying we should be sprinting and pushing every time we hit the pavement.
Being included in the running sphere for the last year and a half, I’ve been audience to many humble-brag posts, myself included. I’ve noticed how so many runners that I consider FAST will sheepishly post their middle-of-the-pack splits from a training run and highlight, bold, scream THIS WAS EASY FOR ME.
This triggers that part of the brain that is always in competition with someone else. It isn’t soul-crushing to see that your easy run is 8:30s and mine is 10s. But it does mess with my confidence, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Speed shaming is subtle, uncomfortable and somewhere tip toeing a fine line of unhealthy.
After this week’s speed workout, my new Garmin flashed:
Fastest Mile. X:XX
Damn that felt so good. What didn’t feel good was my wheezing striding up Cat Hill 7 times, or my tired hamstring, or overheating under too many layers, or the hint of a side stitch at repeat 4.
Running isn’t easy.
I’ve ran since high school, and my pace has always lived in a middle-of-the-pack range, and I like it just fine here.
Every day someone gets the courage to put on a pair of sneakers to run. Those 2, 3, maybe 4 miles out the door will be difficult. So stop calling it easy.
Running isn’t easy.
I don’t need to be the best runner in your feed, or the fastest runner in a race. The best part of completing a marathon alongside all-star athletes is knowing that crossing that finish line, we logged the same exact distance. The mileage is the great equalizer.
Starting today, my new New Year’s Resolution is to rid my running vocabulary of the word “Easy”.
So is that it? Am I only going to run hard from now on? No more easy runs every again? Not really.
Instead I’ll be going on runs that are fun, conversational, sustainable, silly, slow. All the things that an easy run is meant to be — just without that label.
Easy isn’t one size fits all.