If you can’t carry a conversation, you’re running too fast

by Lesley on January 15, 2014 · 9 comments

in motherhood

When I first started running my mom gave me the best advice. She’d been training for a marathon and her coach said that if she couldn’t carry a conversation, she was running too fast. Something about that line really resonated with me, probably because in all my past efforts to get fit I’d quit after a few times around the track. I didn’t like how my lungs burned and everything about the whole process was miserable.

I know exercise isn’t supposed to be a cake walk… BUT … it’s certainly easier to form habits when you don’t set yourself up for failure. My mom basically gave me permission to slow down and set myself up for success. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Now that I’ve been running for almost ten years, I know something else about pace: how fast I run is dependent on my current season in life. In the early running years I kept to a 10+ minute mile. When I started running consistently my pace began naturally quickening, and at one point it was in the 8 minute mile range. These days, as I’m pushing a stroller, it’s back to a 9-10 minute mile. Would I like to be faster than I am right now? OF COURSE. Is it realistic? Not really.

My mom’s running advice applies to other areas of my life too. Lately I’ve chosen to say NO to a lot of fun invitations…like a writing conference in Chicago and a parenting seminar on Wednesday nights and yoga classes at 6:00am and even play-dates that always seems to fall right in the middle of Owen’s morning nap. We are at home a LOT, and my productivity feels at an all time low. It’d be easy to get bitter about our slow pace, and sometimes, admittedly, I do. But I’m also realizing that my capacity to do all the things I normally do just isn’t what it used to be. Feeding and dressing and changing two children zaps my energy. On the weeks when I run too fast, my conversations and attitude become snippy and bitter.

There is a time for speed training, but it’s not right now. I’m a better mom when I run a little slower. We’re taking in the view and picking up leaves and stopping often for water breaks. We’re chatting about the wandering cats and waving at the neighbors’ pink lawn flamingos and maybe even swinging by Starbucks for a mid-morning pick-me-up. Basically we’re doing whatever it takes to stay sane and enjoy each other.

Here are some questions for you today:

Does your marriage seem hard right now? Is your relationship with God feeling strained or foreign? Are you unhappy when you wake up in the morning? Is it possible you’re running just too fast? And if so, what’s something you can/should cut out in order to keep your sanity? 

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9 comments
Michelleackerperez
Michelleackerperez

I may make this my manta: "I’m a better mom when I run a little slower." So counter-intuitive, but so good. 

marisaloper
marisaloper

Amen! We've said no to quite a bit lately and let me tell you, it is FREEING!! what a relief to have some down time for things like play-do, messes in the bathtub, and lots of trucks  

Sarahkerner
Sarahkerner

Wow - you really hit the nail on the head!  I can cut myself slack when it comes to exercising, but I get so frustrated sometimes that I can't take advantage of all the opportunities that are presenting themselves lately because I have a new baby.  And yeah... my marriage does seem hard.  Something about sleep deprivation and a whole lotta new (baby) responsibilities, combined with job stress.  It's been a bit rough, but I think we're just going to have to get through it and try not to kill each other in the process.

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@Sarahkerner I was at a writing event last night and another writer who doesn't have kids was trying to tell me that I should just get up early to write. "I find I can get so much done at 6:00am!" she says. And I reply: "Yes, I'm already up at 5:30am but it's hard to type with a baby on the breast." Le sigh. :)

Balanced_Life_
Balanced_Life_

Such a perfect analogy. And perfect timing. I was running WAY too fast last week (and the weeks before). Everything was out of whack. So this week I forced myself to clear the schedule and say no to virtually everything. And it's been slow...and we've been cooped up. But it's just what we needed. It's amazing how tempting it is to rev up again and start planning (errands, projects, friends) but saying no is a skill I really want to learn to live out well. Thanks for sharing this :)

wendyvaneyck
wendyvaneyck

Love this analogy. Definitely something my husband and I are trying to get right this year. 

jamiehanauer
jamiehanauer

Very nice! I value white space, margins, and breathing room, yet somehow things creep up on me then I find myself overcrowded, jumbled, and short of breath. I'm going to get out the pruning shears, then be vigilant in making sure I stick to the pace I'm most comfortable with, which just so happens to also be the one that helps my family thrive.

Bronwyn Lea
Bronwyn Lea

Hooray for awesome life mottos from moms!! Thanks, Lesley, this was a word in season for me.