I’m sorry I’m slow.
“I’m sorry I’m slow” are two things I wish a certain mother runner would stop saying.
“I’m slow,” she’ll say before joining you for a run. “Sorry!” she’ll say if she bumps your elbow. She’ll tell you about a race, prefacing it with “I’m slow”—even if she placed in her age group!
It drives me nuts! Stop apologizing! Stop saying you’re slow!
Okay, okay, the sorry slow-talking mother runner is me.
I know I’m not alone. I hear my (female) running friends say “slow” and “sorry” all the time too! Why?
Women apologize more than men because they think they’ve committed more apology-worthy offenses and they think their perceived offenses are more apology worthy. This according to an oft-cited 2010 study in Psychological Science, which launched a whole anti-apologia movement.
In other words, we’re harder on ourselves!
The problem with “sorry” is that I (like many women) say it almost like a default tic as I move through the world. Sorry sorry, sorry I said sorry. GAH!
I’m trying to use “Excuse me” instead of “sorry” when, say, threading the needle of a crowded grocery store aisle.
Of course, I don’t want to banish true apologies—tell your brother you’re sorry you broke his [really important thing]!—or expressions of empathy—I’m sorry your brother broke your [really important thing]!
Context matters. That’s what Deborah Tannen, Georgetown linguistics professor and author of You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation, told the New York Times in “No, You Don’t Have to Stop Apologizing.”
My context is running, and I want to stop apologizing for being “slow.”
What is “slow” anyway? My “slow” may be your fast. My “fast” would make the guys at Letsrun snigger and call me a “hobby jogger.”
[Would somebody please make me a “hobby jogger” T-shirt?]
Run for many years, and I promise you today’s slow will be tomorrow’s fast.
It is worth noting that all the elite women runners I had the privilege of interviewing over the years—Grete Waitz, Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, and others—expressed nothing but utmost respect to runners less fleet than themselves. So there.
When I said something embarrassingly self-deprecating after finishing last (again) at a speed session at my then-employer Runner’s World, coach Budd Coates yelled, “You’re not last! You’re ahead of everyone who didn’t come out here today!”
“Like body acceptance, pace acceptance can come from shifting our focus from external metrics and others’ perceived judgments to how we actually feel in our own skin,” Danielle Friedman wrote in a paean to slow running in the New York Times. (Which honestly was a tad too apologetic for my tastes.)
I’m feeling prickly about this right now because I just came back from the longest three months ever recovering from a strained hip flexor and psoas muscle. I am so grateful to be running (hobby jogging) again I could weep. Yet I hesitated to reach out to my BRF because “I’m slow” and I don’t want to impose upon my friend my mindful recovery pace, which I like to call tai chi running. “I’m sorry.” GAH!
When BRF and I finished our first run together last week, I of course apologized for the slow pace, and she said, “That felt so good. I could run that pace all day.”
YES! Running should feel so good! Isn’t that the point?
And context does matter. My mother says, “I’m sorry I’m slow,” at the start of every walk, but it’s less apology and more “hmpf, just deal with it.” HA! And then she goes on her mandatory 1-mile minimum walk.
So here’s my self-imposed challenge:
Replace “I’m sorry I’m slow” with “I’m happy I’m healthy.”