When I started running, in my late teens, it was always a solo affair. I ran in my own little world, unconcerned by the passersby or anyone else’s expectations. Then I began dating the man who became my husband, and he was a runner too. It was natural that we would run together, as one of the ways to spend time in one another’s company. But this posed a problem: I had to push my pace in order to keep up with him and this meant that, at times, instead of maintaining my nice easy rhythm for the entire route, I was out of breath and stumbled to a complete standstill.
This was before I had heard about run-walk training, when you deliberately plan walk breaks at specific intervals throughout your run. So instead I came to a dead stop, bending over, holding my sides and panting until my heart rate dropped to a level at which I could talk. It was Tim who coached me to keep going when I felt like stopping, to reduce the pace to a gentle jog or to a walk if necessary, but to keep moving forward.
And he was right. It’s so much harder to get going again once you have completely stopped. It is entirely possible to recover your breath while still in motion, and then to pick up the pace again when you’ve regained some strength.
Those early days of running came to mind when I was in the middle of a workout recently. The trainer of the particular program I’m following is all about finishing what we start! And she reminded us, at that point in the workout when my arms felt like jelly and I had forgotten why I thought the whole thing was a good idea in the first place, that it’s okay to switch to a lighter weight if it makes it possible to finish the reps without quitting. Lighter weights can help you finish with good form, which is what makes the exercise effective.
This week I have been leaning in to what this might look like in life in general. We passed the year anniversary of the first lockdown, and what a year it’s been! Then I factor in a lengthy discernment process that got derailed in the final stages, a young adult child returning home when she thought she’d be studying in the UK, her younger sister breaking her shoulder blade, and all the other concerns relating to extended family, and so on … it’s been a long haul. There are times when all this (whatever ‘this’ is in your life) catches up with us and we need to lighten up where we can.