Boom! The gun went off shattering the quiet but muggy morning and signaling the start of my daughter, Emy’s,1st race of the cross-country season.
Thanks to pre-race jitters, the thunderous sounds of 100’s of feet hitting the bumpy trail, and enthusiastic spectators shouting in unison, it would be SO easy to get sucked into a faster pace than she could maintain.
But we had talked about a pacing strategy the night before.
She understood the perils of going out too fast.
In fact, it had been the very first painful lesson she had learned as a new runner the year before.
Back then she was an inexperienced athlete, and I was a naive sports mom.
She had listened to her coach who told her to go out hard and fast.
Elbow to elbow the runners had to funnel down into a tight turn quickly, so my girl came jostling down at a pace that seemed slightly out-of-control.
I remember looking at her face and thinking, “oh shoot, she is going out too hard.” But as soon as I realized that, she was past me and headed into the woods.
There was nothing I could do to warn her.
Thinking back, I realize that there were some similarities on that Saturday morning to everyday life.
I wanted this week’s tweak to be about the importance of restorative sleep. But I realized that it’s not just about getting your 7-9 hours every night.
It’s about pace.
What kind of pace are you keeping?
Although we all experience busy seasons of life, ask yourself, “is the pace I usually keep something that I can maintain?”
Here are 5 things to consider.
1) When the Gun Goes Off You Need To Be Ready
For cross-country runners being ready means walking up to the start line, rested and fueled.
When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, being ready for your day is not much different.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require 7-9 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, many of us don’t make sleep a priority, and we wake up with sleep debt.
Are you INTENTIONAL about getting your 7-9?
Quality sleep gets you ready for the day, restores your body, and helps to:
- Support longevity
- Manage your appetite
- Fight against some of the prominent diseases
- Boost memory
- Strengthen your immune function
- Help you to lose weight
2) Have a Plan, So You Don’t Get Sucked In
Experienced runners step up to the line with a strategic plan.
They already have the race mapped out in their minds. This prevents them from getting pulled into the speed vortex that is at the start of every race.
Do you get caught up in the habits, priorities, and behaviors of the people you are “rubbing elbows with?”
It happens so easily.
To create and maintain a lifestyle that reflects a healthy pace requires a plan.
Set yourself up for consistent, quality sleep by:
- Being aware of how many hours you are getting
- Keeping blue lights from phones, laptops, iPads out of the bedroom
- Knowing your caffeine limits and abstaining late in the day
- Avoiding intense exercise close to bedtime
- Taking naps
3) Listen To Those Who Know You
Emy’s coach really did not know her personality or her ability last year when he told her to be the first one to the sharp turn.
Of course, she took his advice, which was the right thing at the time, but it got me thinking about how we sometimes listen to people that really don’t know us.
Or we compete with those around us, without really knowing all that they have done to get where they are.
A couple of years ago, when I was trying to build an at-home business, I copied the pace and activities of entrepreneurs that I admired. Rather than inspiring me, it left me dissatisfied with where I was, and it had me running at an unsustainable pace.
Listening to my husband, parents, and even kids would have saved me some unneeded stress.
4) If Things Feel Out-of-Control Make Adjustments
Ultimately, Emy was forced to adjust her pace at that first race.
Out of 100 runners, she was the second one to hit the sharp turn, but it came at a cost. She had to slow down and for a while was passed up by runner after runner.
The only reason she finished the race and did it with a respectable time was she had made an adjustment.
At times you might find yourself at a place that requires a big correction, but most of the time it is all about small adjustments – or tweaks.
If your life pace is in need of a change, keep these things in mind:
- Be creative in looking for a solution
- Ask for accountability from those who love you
- Don’t give up, change even when it is good, takes time
5) Learn From Your Mistakes
I am proud of my daughter. She has entered her second year of cross-country and is already improving her times.
Sometimes the most painful mistakes teach us the best. Emy definitely pays attention to her pace during that first mile now.
My wakeup call came at the beginning of this year when my body responded to the pace I was keeping.
The funny thing about mistakes is we don’t always see them coming.
Just like my daughter headed into the woods with no clue of what was to come, I had no idea that a vulnerability in my body was about to make itself known.
Here are some lessons I learned that might resonate with you:
- Strive toward a healthy pace now
- Listen to your loved ones and to your body
- Take time to be quiet, slow, and thankful
- Your pace is unique to you; don’t feel compelled to take on the pace of those around you
Please feel free to shoot me a question if you have any. And as always, I encourage you to forward this on to a friend or family member that could use the helpful tips.