I recently had a revelation that I might actually be a fast-twitch runner, rather than a slow-twitch one. A very slow fast-twitch runner.

No scientific analysis here, just an online quiz and a hunch. These questions were posed by the training plan I’m following for Hood to Coast. It asked: “Which workout leaves you feeling more beat up the next day? a) Long tempo runs; b) Short sprints.” I paused, dug deep, and realized that while I dread and hate feeling the burn of speed workouts, I usually wake up the next day feeling normal. A hard tempo run, on the other hand, will leave me sore the day after.

It also asked: “What is your race style? a) You struggle in the middle but outkick others with a fast final quarter-mile sprint; b) You pass a lot people during the middle miles?” Hands down I consistently go to a very dark unhappy place in the middle — miles 8-9 in a half marathon, mile 4 in a 10K, mile 16-18 in a marathon — and then I get a second wind and pull out all stops at the finish.

All this time I thought I was more naturally suited to go the distance and lived happily in the comfort zone of long, easy-pace miles. But if I’m actually more geared to run shorter and faster, I need to a) stop dreading speed workouts and b) start appreciating how well I’ve done at 13.1 and 26.2, considering, instead of beating myself up for not having run them better.

I won’t start filling up my race calendar with 1-milers and 5Ks just yet though. I won’t stop running half marathons and beyond. I might have a 5K makeup, but I still love the feeling at the end of a 10, 15, or 20-mile run of having left everything out there. Of having been transformed in a day. All my troubles, worries, all the stress of the day — gone. Like a snake shedding its skin.

Besides, we are driven by the things we are not. Goal setting, by definition, involves striving for something we can’t do yet. And that’s why this fast-twitch gal will continue to run distance events. I’ll take what I’ve got, thank you, and shape my destiny.

It’s like the recent Nike ad in celebration of last week’s 40th anniversary of Title IX: “If someone thinks you can’t, then you have to.” I was never athletically inclined when I was younger so I really can’t speak to what Title IX meant to me when I was a kid in school. But I can appreciate the sentiment of not being limited by what people say you should be able to do. I say girls and women everywhere should follow their dreams. And if the rules stand in our way, we should dare to make new ones.


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