Fast running: why pace is relative

Fast running is what most runners aim to do. But few of them will run the kind of events that appeal to me. And they will all have runners that are faster than them.

I’m a tall, heavyset fella. Nothing I can do about that. It’s the way I’m built. So fast running isn’t a thing I’m good at.

In fact, I’m slow compared with most runners. But here’s the thing: when you’re planning on running a double marathon, you tend not to worry about speed.

fast running versus consistency

So, while I’m plodding along, other runners will zip past me.

Some of them will zip past – and run the distances I’m running. And that’s fair enough. Many will zip past and be stopping at 10K or half marathon distance.

That’s fine, every runner has their distance. I admire those speedy runners that float along.

What I’ll be doing is maintaining my plod. Hell, sometimes I’ll even walk. But one thing I’ll be keeping on eye on is: consistency.

When running long distances, a consistent pace (even if it’s slow) is key. Much better than tearing along and then blowing up long before the finish.

It’s true that some runners manage both. Fair play to them I say. I know I can’t. But I can be consistent. And that’s what gets you to the finish line.

Fast running versus running quickly

The speed you run at is both absolute (5 mph for example) and relative to your own normal pace.

Fast running is not the same as running quickly. In the same way that slow running may not equate to steady running.

So if I run a PB over a certain route, the fact is that I ran the route more quickly than before.

If I run an intervals session, that likely included some fast running – relative to my usual pace.

Elite ultra marathoners will run a long way, quickly. Or, quicker than me. Perhaps faster than most other runners.

The point is: pace is relative. If I run 60+ miles over a 24-hour period, I won’t have run any of it quickly or fast. But I’ll have still covered the miles and in the end, that’s what matters. Or it does to me anyway.


You don’t have to be a speedy runner to be an accomplished runner. When people ask what kind of runner I am, I usually say an endurance runner and leave it at that. So, how far away is the finish line? 50 miles? Fine, see you there – eventually.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *