Pace the Race

Young couple jogging outdoors in spring nature“For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity…Creativity exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else.”

– Natalie Goldberg

When I was in middle school, I was the fastest girl around. I mostly ran sprints in those days.

I’m not as fast as I used to be, but that’s okay; life isn’t a sprint anyway. Success in life doesn’t go to those who are the fastest, but to those who keep going for the long haul.

As I neared my 40th birthday, I got interested in running a marathon. I knew I would need some kind of instruction, so I signed up with the Jeff Galloway marathon program. I’m really glad I did. In training to run long races, it’s very helpful to have others run with you and give advice when you experience difficulties.

Jeff Galloway has a unique approach to running marathons. He advocates a strategy of running for five to eight minutes and then walking for one minute, until you’ve gone the entire 26.2 miles.

This strategy of taking regular breaks to walk and drink some water helps you pace yourself and avoid injuries that might cause you to quit the race. It also gives you a mini rest break every five minutes or so. Not surprisingly, those who take the mini rest breaks often end up outrunning those who don’t.

During my six-month training period, there were many times on the long runs when I felt like giving up, something runners call “hitting the wall.” However, with Jeff Galloway’s program I was able to encourage myself with positive self-talk: Mary, all you need to do is run another five minutes, and then you will have a walk break.

This perspective was a huge help to me! I set an egg timer for five minutes and ran until it beeped. Then I set it for one minute and walked until it beeped again. Instead of facing the overwhelming prospect of running the entire 26.2-mile race, I just had to focus on running another five minutes until my next break. That didn’t sound so hard! In fact, it was very doable.

I finished the full 26.2 miles of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. And I accomplished this by simply running five minutes at a time.

Those who pace themselves—in marathons and in life—will be much more likely to succeed.

What about you?

  • “One day at a time” is a favorite slogan of recovering addicts in 12-step programs. How might that be a useful motto in your own life as you learn to “pace the race”?
  • How do you think the pace of your life would change if you were continually led by your personal values, and life purpose?

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