In theory, running is one of those exercises that seems easy as pie — all you do is lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement. But in actuality, you may feel that you’re “bad” at the exercise, or that you don’t run far or fast enough to call yourself a runner. Seriously, how often do you reject the “runner” label, just because you’re not a half- or full-marathoner? How often do you resist signing up for a race because you don’t want to finish close to the back of the pack or think your body could never make it that far?

When it comes to workouts, you’re your own biggest critic. And the truth is, you’re probably way off the mark. Case in point? Stats from Strava, a social networking app for millions of runners and bikers, show that the average pace isn’t as swift as you probably think. (Never heard of Strava? It’s one of the many great running apps out there.)

How to Determine Your Running Gait — and Why It Matters

The running stats from Strava show that the average pace of runners using the app in the U.S. is 9:44 minutes per mile, and the average distance covered per workout is 4.9 miles. That’s right — if you’re running 10-minute miles and never cross the 5-mile mark, you’re right in there with basically every other runner in the country. (If you do want to get faster, though, try tempo running.)

Even if your times and usual distance don’t line up with those stats (yet), use those numbers as a fitness goal to motivate you — one of the many joys of running is feeling yourself improve. Trust, when you reach that new PR with no stress, you’ll feel like all your hard work was well worth it.

TL;DR — If you think that your recreational running doesn't "count" because you don't have a sub-seven-minute pace or because you cap your mileage at a 5 or 10K, it's time to re-evaluate. Every mile and every minute count. Running can be amazing, and running can also kind of suck, whether you're an elite or lacing up for the first time. And even if you're slower than the Strava average or don't run as far, just remember: You're still lapping everyone on the couch.

What Is Proper Running Form, Anyway?


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