I’ve got Friends at Different Paces


Much like laughter, yawning or a sick beat on a Taylor Swift track, running can be contagious. I’ve seen the running bug infect friend groups and families alike. If you or a loved one has recently been bit by the run bug, fear not. There are plenty of others going through the same thing with you.

When a friend or family member mentions that he or she has recently taken up running, I welcome them with open arms and elation, like any member of a cult would do.

In all my excitement, I often immediately jump to scheduling a run date with said friend or family member, which usually is met by some hesitation. And I get it.

We’ve all been there.

We’ve all started something new and felt the inevitable self-doubt that comes along with it.

“I’m too slow!” “I’m not going to be good at this.” “I will never, ever be able to run X distance.”

New runners, welcome! I’m here to calm your qualms, hush your hesitations and get you out and running along the lakefront path with the more seasoned runner friends in your life.

Here are the top 5 doubts I hear from new runner friends and my honest response back to them. Hopefully they help you or new runners you know get out the door and on more run dates.

“I want to get faster before I am ready to run with anyone else.”

No need to flatter me, I promise I’m not that quick! And if you truly want to get faster, studies have shown that running with other people is a great way to do just that. Running friends keep each other accountable to beat the alarm clock and show up to sweat, which is over half the battle.

“I’d feel guilty holding you back!”

Once again, no need to flatter me! Also, it’s important to realize that most runners do not run every run at a fast pace. It’s just as important to run at a slower tempo – in fact, easy runs can make you run faster as it develops the aerobic system. So even if you want us to run at a slower pace, you’re making me better, too.

“You’ll want to go farther than I can go”

I’m actually running with you as an excuse to not have to run as far today.

Just kidding (maybe), but honestly I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve ever really, REALLY wanted to run double digit miles. If for some reason I want to run more later on, I can. I’m not worried about it, and you shouldn’t be either.

“Don’t waste a race on me”

Listen, new runner friend, I would not have tried to coax you into signing up for a race with me if my intentions were to leave you in the dust. The thrill I get from seeing a friend beam with pride and accomplishment after running their first race is well worth the entry fee. That, and there’s usually some pretty hilarious stories involved. (Like that one time when you thought it was a good idea to try lukewarm vanilla bean GU for the first time during the race and the face you made afterwards. I was there to see that. It was priceless.)

“But I’m not a real runner!”

Do you run? Even a little bit? You’re a runner. It’s official; welcome to the club. It doesn’t matter if you are running marathons every weekend or running your first 5k in a few months (or maybe in some distant, unknown future). We’re all runners and we’re all in this thing together.

I am forever grateful for the runners in my life who have helped me begin my running journey. They are many of the same runners that continue to push me to be my best self today. They encourage me, motivate me and inspire me, regardless of our varying paces or experience.

Come out join us on the path soon, ok?

Endurance Move

About Cass Gunderson

Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is a full-time student at the University of Chicago's Booth Graduate Business School. Before deciding to throw away all her money to go back to school, Cass worked for a private equity firm that buys technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. Cass has completed four marathons and one ultramarathon (she claims she'll never do this to herself again, but that's TBD). She can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.

1 thought on “I’ve got Friends at Different Paces

  1. Love this- I’ve heard all of these and I’ll definitely use these responses!

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