I originally started writing my blog because it gave me an outlet to talk to myself about my running. I had ambitions to get better and by writing about my experiences, I hoped it would give me additional motivation to get out and run. It wasn’t really about other people reading it but if people did that was a massive bonus.
My ambition was quite modest, I wanted to be better than average. My running enthusiasm probably peaked around 2012 and at that time I felt that I was doing ok, I ran a respectable half PB and a reasonable Marathon. Since then I have not always found the motivation to train consistently. There have been times where I have been frustrated by my lack of form, my lack of fitness and lack of motivation. This year has been different and frankly that’s very exciting. Whilst I’ve not gone out and trained as intensively has I have previously done, I have been a little more consistent. My running times are improving but are not quite where they were in 2011/2012. And this has started raising questions in my mind - am I above or below average?
Over the last few weeks I’ve started thinking about what being better than average means. Is it even a valid way to measure how good I am? There's so many ways to interpret average in the context of running.
One way is to look at my results in recent events but should I be looking at my finishing position or my times? I quickly concluded that working out an average time for an event involved far too much maths, so I looked at finishing position as a starting point. If I'm honest it's very flattering. For example I finished in the top 22% of the field at the Maldon Half. The following fortnight I finished in the top 37% of the Tiptree 10. Both are well above mid-field but does that mean better than average? Statistically, I guess it does, but emotionally I'm not sure it's a good enough answer. In my mind it starts opening up a whole new question of what does a 'runner' look like. How do you measure or define a 'runner'? Is there some unwritten rule that declares you a runner when you run a sub 3 hour marathon and everyone that can't get there is, well not a runner? A few hours of googling revealed no concrete answers, but I did find a few club standards. So unless you achieve a club standard you are not a runner? That doesn't feel too fair to normal runners that work hard but perhaps weren't blessed with loads of speed genes.
Maybe being better than average isn't even measurable, maybe its a feeling. In late October I decided to get up and run the Chelmsford Marathon. It was perhaps a bit reckless but it was massively enjoyable just turning up and then running (mostly) 26.2 miles without any worry about times. My aim was a simple one - just finish. I did finish and despite not running further than 13 miles for months before I did ok. And I actually felt better than average for just being able to turn up and run.