“I’d be so frustrated with myself if I were you. You should be able to run faster than that.”
“How can you even call yourself a runner when you’re so slow?”
These are a couple of the messages I’ve received on Instagram lately. (Side note: I blocked both these men and a few others who shared similar unsolicited criticism… That negativity isn’t welcome in my life.)
BUT it did open my eyes to just how big the stigma is with slowing down. Not just in running, but in life as well.
From a very young age we’re taught to “hurry up, get moving, let’s go!” I was guilty of speaking these words to my youngest child so many times as he leisurely tied his shoes while we were running late trying to get out the door. (BTW, he still does this at 16 ;) )
Then off to school we go, and we receive the same message daily… and it continues all our lives.
Spend a few minutes on social media and you’ll notice this message often applies to running as well.
There is a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) message in running and in life in general that slow is bad.
“How will I get faster (better) (stronger) (thinner) (more successful) if I slow down?”
“How can I possibly accomplish everything I need to accomplish if I slow down?”
There is an underlying message that slow means “not trying.”
That slow is weakness.
But I’m calling B.S. on that – Right here. Right now.
Slowing down is not weakness.
Sometimes slowing down is the most POWERFUL thing we can do – to honor where we are in any given moment and any given season of life. Because different moments and life seasons call for very different energy from us.
And when we ignore our own inner cues telling us what we need, we begin to break down.
Slowing down in running since having covid in January has been such an eye opener for me. In those long, slow miles, my awareness has settled in a way that it hadn’t when every run (and everything in my life, really) was focused on “achieving.”
During my long, slow, lovely low hear rate miles, my mind calms and my focus returns to what’s right in front of me. And that is where my heart finds peace.
That peace, that renewal of focus, that gentle movement allows me to show up stronger in everything that’s important to me.
While I’m building a strong base in running, I’m also renewing my strong base for life in general.
These strong bases form the foundation for achieving everything our hearts yearn for. From this place of strength, we can build sustainable, healthy, joyful “success,” instead of the frazzled, barely hanging on, feeling run down type of “success.”
Think about it – What are we “racing” toward?
At a fundamental level, we’re all doing what we’re doing in order to find JOY.
We train hard to experience the joy of a new PR.
We work hard to experience the joy of supporting our families.
We give of our time and attention to experience the joy of helping others.
Does slowing down take anything away from these things?
Slowing down allows us to remember WHY we’re doing whatever it is we’re doing in any given moment.
And it allows us to feel the joy in all the moments along the way.
Because ultimately, that JOY is the goal behind everything we’re doing in the first place.
It took covid smacking me down to slow me down, and in some ways I’m grateful for that smack.
Because I was missing so many moments.
I was caught up in becoming faster, accomplishing more, racing to a perceived “finish line…” a finish line that kept moving on me.
Slowing down has opened my eyes to the beauty that is right here, right now.
Slowing down is strengthening my patience and presence.
Slowing down has re-centered my efforts around my clear understanding of WHY I’m doing any of it –
And in that joy is all the strength we will ever need.
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