Embracing Slow Running
I’ve been running for about three years, but during winter break, I realized something new about my running self: I apparently run best when I embrace slow. Here’s what happened:
These days I usually run four short runs each week. I push Vi to day care in her jogger to warm up and run the 1.2 miles home. The week before Christmas I decided to try to run a 5K since I knew I had my Winter Dash 5K coming up. I thought to myself: Just take it slow and easy; you haven’t run more than 1.2 miles at a time in a long time! So I headed out slow and easy. It felt fantastic. I got to the halfway mark and was thrilled that I felt so good and turned around to head back at my slow and easy pace.
And then up ahead I saw an old dude slowly trotting along. Something primordial kicked in and all of a sudden, I immediately thought: I gotta pick that dude off! So I picked up my pace.
By the time I caught up with him, I felt like utter crap. But now I had to keep up the pace so I could pass and put some distance between us (otherwise, AWKWARD!). I did so, and then not too long after that, I had to stop because I was so exhausted. And I was kicking myself for killing what was otherwise a lovely run. Also, my knees hurt.
On Christmas eve day, I headed out with the intention of trying to do the 5K again. And I was determined to just tune everyone else out. I headed out at my slow and easy pace. It was a beautiful and quiet day. I felt fantastic and headed out one route where my option was to turn around and go back the way I came or do a longer loop. I ended up doing the longer loop and running 4+ miles. I honestly cannot remember the last time I ran 4+ miles!
I was elated when I got home and realized that if I don’t worry about what other people are doing or obsess about being speedier, I can run a greater distance, enjoy the scenery, be quiet with my thoughts, and not get injured. This new perspective even led me to publicly share as one of my 8 intentions the desire to run a 10K and possibly a half marathon this year.
Also, here’s the crazy thing. When I ran my Winter Dash 5K, I was able to maintain my slow and easy perspective, even as lots of people picked me off. It felt great (and it was also lovely that my husband Jon ran with me for the first time ever and stayed with my slow pace for the first couple of miles so we could chat). And then I got an email from the race coordinators, listing my time of 34:09 (10:59/minute). This may seem like total tortoise pace in some people’s books, but is pretty damned good in mine. I’m happy being the tortoise. Especially if it means I can avoid injury!
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