Sunday, July 29, 2012

slow run, slow life

Running has become a metaphor for almost everything in my life. It's very common for me to equate running, training, or racing to various aspects of life. A lot of these metaphors stay in my head. I worry that I talk about running too much. Especially for someone who's not a fierce competitor and my times are "fast for me."

But nonetheless, I am a runner. Running has become integral and crucial in my life, so I talk about it.

This is the second year my husband and I have been involved in a marriage discipleship group. There is a mentor couple that lead the group of six couples. We meet quarterly for a day. There is a theme for the day and we spend the morning alone with God, then the afternoon together with God. Our group is called "Alone Together."  Both Roger and I have really benefitted personally and together from these days alone together. It's an investment in ourselves and our marriage.

Yesterday was our summer meeting. Because running is so therapeutic for me, and we meet at a church across the street from the beach, I often spend part of my "alone" time running.  As I run, I strive to be open, to hear what God might want to say to me during my run.

I don't recall if I blogged about it (I couldn't find an entry, so guessing I didn't) but last year during one of these runs God reminded me that he is precise and always on time. I wanted to run 5 miles and had to do some loops and backtracking to get to this number. I was really thirsty and wasn't sure where the nearest drinking fountain was at my stopping point. I decided even if I came up short, I'd stop at my start point, without going further. As I approached my stopping point, I realized there was a bathroom and drinking fountain. Without looking, I stopped my Garmin and then saw I was exactly at 5 miles. At that time, I needed to know God knew my heart, that I wasn't forgotten and that his timing was perfect.

Yesterday, I set out for a 3-4 mile run. I had done an hour-long Insanity workout the day before and my body was feeling it. I knew that a slower, recovery run would benefit my body the most. But I'm not good at running slow. I always want to speed up. My first mile is often way too fast. And usually mid-run I decide to go for it and forget the recovery.

I forced myself to walk the last tenth of my second mile because I was going way too fast. As I turned around and started running again, I realized how true this is of my life too. I thrive under pressure. I tend to procrastinate because I perform well with the adrenaline pumping. I am not good at slowing down. Until I crash and burn.

Just like slow recovery runs and long, slow training runs are important on race day, slow and steady is important in the natural rhythm of my life. Procrastination and pressure may have worked well for me in college, but it doesn't usually work for my family. I end up frantic and forgetful and they experience the brunt of that.

Running with my Garmin makes maintaining the right pace easy. I simply glance at my watch and know if I need to slow down or speed up. I wish there was a similar watch for my daily life. As I continued on my run, I brainstormed on how I can measure the pace of my life. I started a list of checkpoints. Such as clean bathrooms. My bathrooms are small and easy to clean and I appreciate when they are clean. But when my pace of life is too fast, I don't remember to clean them as often as I'd like.

My check list isn't complete and I need to figure out how I will implement and use it.

As I train for a PR in my November half marathon, I am going to pay special attention to my slower runs. And as I enter a season (starting nursing school) that could be chaotic and frenetic, I will be pay attention to the pace of my life and make sure I am not going to burn out.

Runs like yesterdays make me so thankful I discovered running. I always said running was the one exercise I didn't like and for years I had bad ankles from a double sprain that made running painful. I can't imagine my life without it any more.

God speaks to me as I use the body he created to run.