“Life itself is the best (and the only) timekeeper.” ~Rasheed Ogunlaru
The fall equinox is not only a welcome sign that cooler temperatures are ahead of us along the coast of Virginia, but it also marks an astronomical turning point of the seasons. Fall is here. Scientifically speaking, on the equinox, the orbital plane of the equator is geometrically aligned with the center of the sun. Neither the north or south hemisphere is tilted away from or towards the sun. On the equinox our world is perfectly balanced.
As we move forward, we will experience more darkness than daylight. Our days will get cooler. While our days are rapidly losing light, my body is begging for a slow down. I’ve resisted it, I’ve ignored it, but it keeps finding me. My heart is whispering slow down.
By nature I am someone who tends to trip over my own feet. I have an idea or a thought, and I plow forwarded before I can complete my own sentence. I’m half way out the door before plans are ever finalized. I have a goal, and I’ve created a plan of attack before I can digest what it means. I figure things out as I go.
When I started my new job at Eastern Virginia Medical School, everyone asked how it was going. The only response I could give was Good. It’s really making me slow down. And that is exactly what this job has done. It has slowed down my brain. It’s made me more intentional. It has made me find satisfaction in small details. It has provided a perfect balance for my natural tendencies to move fast. It has provided me a natural equinox
As my brain has started to slow down, it has also started to unwind. I’ve felt myself become more relax, less stressed, and less overwhelmed.
While my heart has been whispering slow down, my desire to run faster has been fueling me. I’ve kept running a priority as work and school began. I’ve run sub 7 pace on speed workouts, tempo runs are getting faster, but I haven’t been satisfied. I’ve wanted more. My long runs have suffered, and they haven’t been as fulfilling. I’ve analyzed it from every perspective. Is it summer? Is it ego? Is it the running plateau I’ve been on for months (maybe years)? Is it not running PRs? Why don’t my speeds workouts translate to race day or distance?
For all the time I’ve spent thinking about and analyzing my long runs, my heart keeps whispering slow down. Maybe this isn’t my season to race. Maybe this isn’t my season for distance. I don’t know the answer to why I’m not satisfied, but I do know I won’t find the answer until I listen.
I don’t run to set personal bests. I don’t run to be fast. I don’t run to win. I run to be my personal best and that has nothing to do with pace or speed. I run to win at life and that has nothing to do with distance.
Yesterday, on the day our world was geometrically aligned with sun, I headed to a group tempo run, and I took a detour. I headed to the gym first because in that moment that is where I wanted to be. I rowed and threw slam balls and did pull ups instead of starting a tempo run with my team. When I finished my work out, I chased the team down the boardwalk. I ran some easy solo miles while the sunset. I stopped half way to stand along the shoreline. After days of rain and flooding, the sun peaked out before it set as a reminder that nothing ever remains the same.
There is a season for everything in life. Right now my season is about slowing down, unwinding, and enjoying the small details. I’m not sure how that translates to running, but I do know the only way to find out is to listen to the whispers of my heart that have never steered me wrong. I’m slowing down and that isn’t defined by pace or distance in the exact same way that personal satisfaction and personal bests are not defined by pace or distance. Life itself is the best timekeeper, and my bests are defined by living. Right now my living exists in the quiet, simple details that can only be enjoyed by slowing down.
“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” ~Sylvia Plath