Run At Your Own Pace

#dearself is a series of blog posts written to my past, present, or future self. I hope you can find a lesson or gentle reminder in this personal note that you can apply to your life as well.

Dear Self,

When will you really start listening to me? You have more inside of you than you ever acknowledge or embrace! I hope today showed you a valuable life lesson—focus more on running at your own pace.

Yes, you used to be able to run four to five miles every day, but that was 10 years ago when you were in competition shape. Girl, you are older and things change. (Ladies and gentlemen, it is true. Two miles is now a STRUGGLE for me. These knees and lower back are showing signs of old age and a lack of stretching enough).

When you first set out in your mind to run three miles without stopping today, I said “it’s about time that you get back at it.” But, I was nervous for you because this is not the first time you set this goal in the last year. You’ve started before with an image of ten years ago in your mind. Then, the burn in those legs started about 0.5 miles in and you listened to those voices of doubt telling you to just walk for a few seconds before getting back at it.

But, there was something different about today.

You threw your headphones on and hit the road just as you did in the past. But this time, you said “even if I have to jog at the slowest pace of life, I will not stop” until this Nike Running App says “you have reached your goal.” I know that was a hard decision because you wondered how many people walking and running by would wonder why you were running so slow when you could just as well speed walk.

Oddly enough, with each step something physical and mental re-energized within you. You were finding yourself again because you finally embraced your strength, momentary weakness, and personal pace. What I love about you today is that you are ready to embrace where you are today and run at your own pace!

I’ve been trying to tell you this for a while now—where you start is not where you will end, if you stay consistent. Instead of spending so much time trying to figure out the end (which is impossible to know with certainty), continue doing what you did today—embrace the process!

Today, you zoned in, you took the first step, and you ran slowly, very slowly, even embarrassingly slowly at times. HOWEVER, you completed your goal! You ran three miles without stopping once and managed to do it with a huge smile on your face and in your heart.

Tomorrow, you will be strong enough to pick up the pace. Then, a year from now you will be even stronger than that. You will never get to your ultimate goal if you don’t complete the process. You will find new determination to never quit once you accept that small successes will someday equal big wins.

Life is a marathon, but you already know this. So, don’t spend too much time trying to overanalyze the run. Just run at whatever speed you can push yourself toward today. Some days will be a series of sprints while others will feel like a long endurance training session.

The next steps for you are to continue to listen to your life. Learn when you need to sprint and when it is time to regroup and slow things down. Confidently stay in your own lane and focus on your own form and breathing. Your race was designed for YOU, so run at your own pace. No one else can run it and you cannot run someone else’s either. Worrying about who is passing you and who might catch up are only distractions.

Embrace your own journey. Feel the burn and adjust; don’t feel the burn and quit. You were never meant to run someone else’s race, you were meant to master your own.

What process and small steps do you need to take and embrace in your life right now? What does it look like to run at your own pace?

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