I sprinted my way through the fall. When I stopped or slowed down, I looked like a basketball player trying to catch his breath in between suicides, sweat dripping off the brow. Instead of long slow inhales, I panted. Just when my breathing was semi-regular, I started my next set of suicides. My treadmill workouts mirrored my life. Short, quick runs followed by strength building with weights. Each time I stepped on the treadmill, I tried to beat my time from my previous workout. I wanted to get faster and I wanted to maximize my workout in the short time I allowed myself. My fitness tends to be the metaphor for my life.
Honestly, I do okay in sprint mode, never fully recovering from the last set – the last week or the last month. In fact, sprint mode is my default; I’ll blame it on a deep desire to prove my worthiness, which I’m trying to work through. It takes energy for me to slow down and take deep breaths, truly allowing my lungs to taste the fresh air. I like a jam packed schedule, and eating meals in my car does not really bother me, until I am exhausted, and then, I stand with my hands on my knees, bent over, trying to catch my breath.
I set foot on the treadmill this week, starting to train for a half-marathon in April, and instead of letting my body run as fast as it could for two miles, I pushed the speed button down and tried to find a different pace. The long run this past week may have only been 4 miles, but by April, I’ll be running 10+ miles on any given Saturday. Long runs demand a different pace, a slower rhythm.
This will be my second half-marathon and I learned last spring how important it is to train as a sustainable pace. You just can’t sprint 10 miles. Like anywhere worth going, or anything worth achieving, running long distances takes time. As I set foot on the treadmill last week and begun training, I resisted the urge to keep upping the speed. I took deep breaths as my feet pounded the treadmill belt and I let my mind wander, reminding myself that getting done faster wasn’t the goal, finding a good pace was. “Run longer, not faster,” is becoming my motto, both on the treadmill and in other areas of my life.
With holiday season over, I’m settling back into a more manageable schedule, but still trying to find the right rhythm, one that allows air to reach my lungs. I’m becoming more comfortable with a quiet night at my apartment to cook a meal, read a book and write. I’m finding myself curled up in bed with a mug full of tea at 8 pm, allowing my spirit to rest. Ten years from now, I want to look back on my life and be able say that I walked faithfully until the end, instead of burning out early because started out sprinting. My pace must be sustainable in order to produce faithfulness for the long-term over speed in the short-term.
May this be a season defined by rhythm and space to breathe. May my pace be sustainable in order to walk faithfully with the Lord for a lifetime.