Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Running Faster

Saturday is Race Day!  Ashley and I are running a 5k - my first since 2007.  It has been a while and I'm excited! 

A few months ago, as I began running again, I was discouraged by how little stamina I had.  Not entirely unexpected, but kind of defeating nonetheless!  I started using the "Couch to 5k" app on my phone to guide my runs.  Run for 1 minute, walk for 1 minute.  It started easy and gradually extended the running periods until I was running 8 minutes at a time.  I was feeling good about that.

Then I peeked a few workouts ahead.


I realized that my beloved app was about to kick my backside by dramatically increasing my running times.  Soon there would be no walking and within weeks, I was expected to run for 30 minutes straight.  I felt a little betrayed - there was no way I could do that yet!!  Right?

Fortunately, I voiced my concerns  (OK - I was whining) to my daughter.  Ashley has been working with a trainer to resume running after her years of injuries and is doing GREAT.  She said, "Just run slower.  Don't walk, but run slower and you'll be ok!"

On my next run, I strapped on a heart rate monitor and discovered that my "normal" pace was shooting my heart rate up to about 220 beats per minute.  No wonder I had no stamina!  I slowed it down, watching my heart rate, and finding the zone at which I could continue. I completed the run I thought was impossible! 

This is going to seem painfully obvious to everyone else, but it was revelatory for me: the key to getting faster was to slow down.  As I've been able to complete the longer runs, my pace has improved dramatically.  No one needs fear me Saturday on the course, but I'm getting better!  For me, it's huge progress.

And really - isn't this how so many things in life are?  We are impatient to "arrive", wanting to overcome our weaknesses and accomplish great things RIGHT NOW.  We want to "fix" whatever struggles we and our loved ones are having.  Surely if we word those instructions to our children just right, they'll always obey, right?

We set out with enthusiasm and great intentions, only to burn out, to fail repeatedly, and to be discouraged.  Maybe by slowing the pace and focusing on progress made, the finish line and the satisfaction of accomplishment become more attainable.

Happy "running" - whatever form that takes for you!!

"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." - Mosiah 4:27

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