Why It Doesn't Matter How Fast You Run

feet running on a treadmill
You should feel proud of every single run — no matter your running speed. Taking those first few steps is a huge accomplishment that you should celebrate.

by Mary Lambkin

People run for a variety of reasons. Some are trying to get in shape or release stress, while others enjoy how running challenges their limits and allows them to explore new areas.

What do all of these reasons have in common? They're all achievable no matter your running speed!

When it comes to reaping the benefits of running, it simply doesn't matter how fast you run. Here's why.

You'll Experience a Runner's High, No Matter Your Speed

The "runner's high" is real! Exercise induces the release of endorphins — among other chemicals — in your brain. Simply put, these chemicals help generate feelings of happiness.

Interestingly, one recent study found that moderate aerobic exercise (which would include leisurely, slow running) releases endorphins related to euphoria and pleasure. This means you can achieve a runner's high even if you go at a slower pace.

You'll Burn the Same Amount of Calories (Or More!)

Whether you're at the front or the back of the pack, you're still burning plenty of calories. In fact, according to Runner's World, "running at any speed expends approximately 100 calories per mile." Not to mention, the slower the pace, the more miles you will accumulate and the more calories you will burn.

So, if you're new to running, you have a lot to look forward to! Even if you take your time on the treadmill, your work will go a long way.

You Should Run for Fun, Not for Fame

Exercise can help improve your self-esteem and confidence levels, whether you're running an 8-minute mile or a 15-minute mile. In fact, leisurely runners who go for a jog purely out of pleasure may feel more confident than competitive runners who are constantly comparing their personal records to others. As long as you run for you, and not for anyone else, you should feel proud of every single jog — regardless of your running speed.

You Can Soak Up the Sights More Easily

When you run at a comfortable pace, you have the opportunity to enjoy every footstep of your journey. If you keep a slow and steady pace (so that you can focus on enjoying the run) you can more easily get lost in a TV show on the treadmill or admire the outdoors as you explore a local trail. Try extending your endorphin rush by taking your pace down a notch — this can provide you with a few extra minutes to soak up the sights.

You Don't Have to Run Fast to Be a "Runner"

If you find yourself selecting lower treadmill speeds, remember, there's nothing to be ashamed of, and no reason you should ever feel pressured to push your pace beyond your comfort zone. You should be proud that you're running at all — no matter the pace or distance! Many people tense up at the idea of stepping on a treadmill, so taking those first few steps is a huge accomplishment that you should celebrate.

There's no official pace you have to hit or distance you need to achieve in order to call yourself a "runner." All you have to do is simply be confident in your abilities as a runner, and you might be surprised how fast (and far) you can go as you work toward your fitness goals.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.