I don’t like running on a treadmill. I try to run outside whenever possible, but this week I ran on a treadmill.
One reason why I don’t like treadmills is I find it hard to tear my gaze away from all the stats on the treadmill: calories burned, distance, elapsed time, incline, and speed.
When I run on a treadmill, I fixate on the stats. How fast am I running? How far have I gone? How many calories have I burned? How long to my next walk interval?
When I run outside, I don’t even know the stats. I run for a prescribed time, turning around at the halfway point. I let my body set the pace it desires. The mantra running through my head is, “Look Easy, Feel Easy.” The mantra reminds me to relax. After all, it’s ultimately faster to run with a relaxed form.
I am not relaxed on a treadmill. I’m worried about not falling off, so I push against the front. Not once do I think, “Look Easy, Feel Easy.”
When I run on a treadmill, I ignore the one stat that I do pay attention to outside: my heart rate.
When I run outside, my heart rate stays comfortably in my aerobic zone. I can comfortably speak in short sentences. A sprint at the end, or a big push uphill, might cause my heart rate to go briefly anaerobic, where I can only speak in short phrases. But I never spend much time in my anaerobic zone when I run outside. (Yes, I’m a dork and I’ve had my aerobic zone personally tested.)
When I run on a treadmill, my heart rate hovers near my anaerobic threshold. Most of my run intervals end with my heart rate anaerobic for some time.
Going anaerobic is not very beneficial for me given my current fitness level and goals. I know this, so why do I push myself to that point?
Because I have not given myself permission to slow down.
When I run on a treadmill, I set the speed to the value I “should” be running. I don’t listen to my body. If I were to set the treadmill speed slower, I could focus on “Look Easy, Feel Easy.” I could keep my heart rate where I want it.
Similarly, Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion Swimming, posted a blog “Permission to Swim Slowly” this week. It details the benefits of slowing down while swimming.
Running and swimming, both benefit from learning to slow down. How much would I benefit from giving myself permission to slow down in other areas of my life?
How often do I go too fast, or do too much, because I think that’s what I “should” do? How often do I ignore what really matters, like loved ones or my own happiness, because I’m fixated on less meaningful details?
I’m giving myself permission to slow down in life. How about you? Share in the comments below.
*Photo Credit: E’Lisa Campbell (eccampbell on Flickr), Creative Commons License