Running is a sport that is often focused on speed and personal bests. However, there is a growing movement towards slower running and embracing the joy of the race rather than the time on the clock.
Over the years, the average finish times for races have been getting slower. This is due in part to the fact that running has become more inclusive, with runners of all ages, abilities, shapes, and sizes participating. Martinus Evans, the founder of the Slow AF Run Club, believes that running is for everyone and that it is not about a number on a scale or a time on a stopwatch.
In recent years, there have been initiatives to make races more inclusive for slower runners. The London Marathon, for example, introduced a “back-of-the-pack” initiative that allows runners to finish at their own pace. Parkrun, a global series of 5km events, also encourages runners of all speeds to participate and has no time limit for finishing.
Bethan Taylor-Swaine, who is researching inclusivity in running, suggests that we need to move away from pace as the sole marker of success and value other aspects of the running experience. She believes that running should be about movement and the health benefits it provides.
Former elite marathoner Tina Muir and other runners have found satisfaction in running even as their times have slowed. They have shifted their focus to goals like stress reduction, time in nature, and overall health. Many slow runners have embraced terms like “Jeffing” (a walk-run combo) and “picnic pace” to describe their style of running.
There may be critics who believe that slower runners should train more or lose weight before racing. However, as the slow running movement gains momentum, it is clear that running is for everyone, regardless of their pace.