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
Courtney Cantrell says
Just wanted to let you know that I’ve finally replied to your comment (from August) on my blog: http://courtcan.com/writing/your-blog-is-a-big-friendly-dog/#comment-39410
Also…kudos to you for the running. I miss that so much! I broke my tailbone when I had my baby in September, so I haven’t been able to get back into running yet. Hopefully, physical therapy will take care of this.
In the meantime, I have slowed down a lot in life, and not willingly or happily. Don’t get me wrong — I am overjoyed to have my baby girl and would not trade her for anything! But I don’t accomplish all the things I’d like to accomplish, and it frustrates me. At the end of every day, I have to remind myself consciously that taking care of my daughter IS a grand accomplishment, and I have the privilege of doing it every day. That reminder improves my perspective quite a bit.
I’d still like to be able to accomplish some writing too, though. ; )
Astrid Bryce says
I’m so sorry you broke your tailbone. That’s one childbirth injury I had not been aware of. Good luck with physical therapy.
I understand your frustration at not accomplishing the things you would like. I have the same problem, and I don’t even have a baby. I commend you for your efforts of achieving anything other than baby care.
Remember, time passes quickly, with babies getting older each day. If you are providing a loving environment for your baby, you’re influencing the world by more than you know.
Good luck on the writing.
David Wherry says
Good article Astrid! Something I need to work on; when on the treadmill and in life.
Astrid Bryce says
I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It seems many people have trouble slowing down, until something like sickness or injury forces the issue. Know that you are not alone in needing to work on that. I know I do.
Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your site. Congrats on the marathon, and you made a great point about how we never know what meaningless (to us) comment will stick with someone for years. Here’s to “You can.”