Is Faster Fitter?

I recognize that paying for personal training means paying someone to make me do what I don’t think I’ll do on my own, and so that on some level I *want* to be forced to work out harder than feels totally comfortable. Given that, it’s kind of irrational to refuse to do what I’m told.

So the latest thing I’m being made to do is run around the block as a warm-up at the very beginning of our session. That’s not so bad, actually. But he’s timing it. The other day was the first time and I came in at 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

I guess that’s pretty slow because — let’s call him Josh — Josh seemed to think I should be aiming to improve on that. He said something like, “that’s your baseline. You’ll do better next time.” Thing is, I wasn’t terribly disappointed because I don’t really aspire to run fast, or even faster, than I run at the moment.

I am slow — yesterday morning when I was out for my run it took me a really long to time to catch up to and pass a woman who was out walking her dogs. My slow run was only marginally faster than her fast walk. In terms of physical achievement, it’s quite amazing to me that I am running at all.

When I started, that was what Josh and I disagreed most about. I don’t know many runners who haven’t suffered injuries and I didn’t want to be among them (so far, no injuries here). The only thing I really want to be able to do (in the short-term) is run 20 minutes in a row without having to take a walk break (right now I’m up to 7).

So when I said that I didn’t really care to make a faster time, Josh would have none of it. I guess just about everyone who runs wants to be able to run faster. And my question is this: Why? Is faster fitter? I’m the same on my bike. I like a leisurely ride. I don’t really mind if people are zooming past me or pedaling more vigorously. That’s all okay with me.

Now maybe, as I run more and ride more I just will become faster. That’s okay with me, too. But at this point I’m not motivated by it as a goal. And maybe once I get to my 20 minutes, I’ll feel like I want to go faster (though I’m guessing I’ll be more inclined to want to extend it to 30 minutes, or I’ll start thinking about going further rather than faster).

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying running at my pace. It does feel like hard work, like I’m getting “fitter.” And the fact that when I started I could only do 2 minutes in a row and now I can do 7 (3 times!) seems to indicate some sort of improvement. Maybe next week in my pre-workout round-the-block I’ll try pushing just a bit harder, not because I want to, but because I’m paying to be made to do what I wouldn’t naturally choose to do.

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