Just because I am slow, doesn’t mean I am struggling
I don’t walk fast.
I can, but I often don’t.
I am short, (which is a closely guarded secret even from myself), and I have a short legs long body sort of arrangement, so despite not seeming that short, my steps are short. This means that when walking with tall people, I either, fall behind, or take double the amount of steps. This is worse going up hills when your stride length naturally shortens.
That sounds like a load of excuses, it’s not, it’s just a physiological explanation for why I sometimes walk slower than other people. Other, non physiological reasons are I like to look around, I stop to chat to birds, I like to take photos, I attempt to get sheep to come and talk to me, dogs tend to make a beeline for me causing me to stop moving, all cats need attention…the list is actually endless, but it boils down to: I like to interact with my surroundings rather than power through them.
Here is a random selection of things I stop to look at / photograph whilst walking about…
There are many reasons why I go slowly, it is very rare that the reason is I am struggling and I am not enjoying it. To be honest sometimes even if I am struggling because my ankle is being annoying or, yes sometimes walking up big hills is hard or whatever, I am probably still enjoying it.
What I don’t enjoy is people constantly asking if I am ok and telling me we can go back if I want. Or we can go a shorter/less hilly/whatever way if I would prefer.
People doubting my abilities makes me doubt my abilities.
People striding on ahead, stopping to watch me catch up, then carrying on just before I reach them makes me feel guilty for slowing them down. It makes me feel like I am an annoyance that they have to put up with, like a kid who can’t keep up with the adults and needs allowances made for them. It makes me feel like I have to apologise for slowing everyone down.
It has the compound effect of allowing the fast walkers to get a rest, and the slow walkers to have to walk continuously. This means that on a long walk the slow walkers get tired quicker, which compounds the “you are slow you must be struggling” problem…
It is the same with running.
I run slowly, I mainly do run/walk intervals, and I enjoy doing that.
As soon as other people get involved I start to feel slow and they start to do the *head tilt, patronising tone* “you’re doing really well” thing. I know they are attempting to be encouraging, I know I often read more into things than is really there, but it just comes across as “well done fat girl, at least you are trying”
This is why I am never doing park run again!
Come to think of it this is why I am not going to run with people or sign up for races again. I am fully aware that every time I say that I normally follow it up with a spur of the moment entry into an outrageously long run or walk or some such thing! I am pretty sure this is not going to happen this time however. I have enough on my plate with Strong person (bear?) training!
I think the problem some people have is accepting / realising that even doing something that is hard / tiring can be rewarding. Finding aspects of something a challenge does not make it a struggle. It is not always the case that a person will want to take the easy route, this is even true of fat people believe it or not!
So, in summary, don’t assume that someone is struggling unless they tell you they are struggling…
Especially not if they have stopped to chat to a sheep… sheep need chatting to, it is practically the law!