“Nature did not blend things so inextricably that you can’t draw your own boundaries: place your own well-being in your own hands. It’s quite possible to be a good man without anybody realising it. Remember that. And this too: you don’t need much to live happily. And just because you’ve abandoned hopes of becoming a great thinker or scientist, don’t give up on attaining freedom, achieving humility, serving others, obeying God.” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book VII, 67)Beside me on a treadmill today was a woman who looked as if she could be fit: she was probably late thirties, slim, and healthy looking; but she was obviously not running fit. She alternated walking and running in fairly short bursts but her running speed was only about 6.5 km per hour. My first reaction was “well it goes to show you never can tell!” My second reaction was the more considered one of never judging what other people do when you don’t know enough. From the outside how can you tell what is happening? Someone might be coming back from illness or injury, they might have been inactive for years and made a admirable resolution to get fit. It could be that they are actually faster but are experimenting on form. There are all sorts of reasons someone might be pursuing a particular programme.
All I know for certain is that if you see someone making an effort - no matter what it is - they should be applauded. They are drawing their own boundaries, working on their own way of attaining freedom. Good for them, good for all of us.
This is why I like the above quote from Marcus Aurelius. It also shows why the overlap in the Stoic approach to living a good, i.e. virtuous, life and running a road race where winning could never, ever be a feasible objective. In your own terms it is still possible to be a good runner without anybody else realising it!