Take the Inside Lane

by Dani Fake Webb on September 23, 2010


A few weeks ago I began running with a group known as “Norm’s Maggots.” Norm is the owner of a local running store, Jus’ Running, and every Tuesday night for nearly twenty years, he has organized a track workout that has its participants loving and hating him: 1.5 mile warm up, 5 miles of interval training, and a 1.5 mile warm down (for those of you who don’t know what interval training is, don’t worry. I don’t really either. I just run around a track and do what he tells me).

My first night at this workout was a lesson in humility. It was the end of May, and I had just completed my longest and hardest run ever. I thought I was pretty cool. I was very proud of myself. I showed up not knowing what to expect, but really needing some community in my life. What better way to to build community than to find it with my new passion? And I just ran a 15K. I can do this group thing!

That first night there were 35 people who showed up for the workout. We ran to the track. I was the 35th the arrive. We ran the workout. I was the 35th to finish. We ran back to the store. I was the 35th to return.


I never claimed to be fast, nor do I have the desire to be fast. But to be THAT slow? There are people there who literally run more than twice as fast as I do. If I complete a lap in 2 minutes 30 seconds, they complete a lap in one minute. Their “recovery” pace is as fast as my fastest run! (My recovery pace is a walk.) I felt humble, embarrassed, awkward and old. I was definitely not a “Maggot.”

42-17372750 But I kept coming back, running as best I could, in lane four, safely out of everyone’s way. On about the fourth workout, Norm pulled me aside for some coaching. “Take the inside lane,” he said. “When you are running your hardest, take the inside lane.”

Are you kidding me? People, FAST people, run on the inside lane. I run in lane four, safely out of harms way lest I be mowed down by these people. But Norm told me no. He told me that I, just like everyone else, deserved that space when I was working my hardest. It didn’t matter that I was slower. They could go around me.


The next workout, he reminded me, “Take the inside lane.” A fellow runner confirmed it. “You own it,” he said. “The inside lane is yours.” (It is interesting to note that this fellow runner finishes first when I finish 35th.)

I felt so validated. Such simple thing – encouragement to take the inside lane.

I guess I expected to be blown off, to not be taken seriously. I mean, these are serious, competition driven runners. Yet there is space for me. They encourage space for me, which is different than just allowing it.

I’ll never be the caliber of runner as most of Norm’s Maggots. I don’t even want to be. But I love showing up knowing the group helps me with my discipline, gives variety to my half-marathon training, and will eventually help me get more in shape and maybe even just a little bit faster.

Most of all, I love knowing there is a place for me.
I love knowing that even I am a Maggot.



Where in your life have you been surprised at fitting in where you didn’t think you would?
Where has space been made for you?
Where in your life do you need to take the inside lane and run with confidence?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Annie Wolfe October 29, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I love this story, Dani, it inspires me.
I’m extremely loathe to “take the inside lane”. In fact, for years, literally at least 8 years, I’ve been invited and encouraged to join “Norm’s Maggots”. I’ve NEVER gone. I’m terrified of being slow, and not able to compete with them. I never imagined I would fit in, so I never even gave them a chance. My loss, big time. I’m regretful when I read your post here. I have so often NOT given people a chance to welcome me, to make room for me. Wow, I’ve really missed out on one of life’s loveliest experiences; being invited in, and given value. I’ve missed it. Perhaps one day soon I’ll step bravely on the track and let myself become a Maggot, after all, I’d say it’s about time, wouldn’t you?

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