Notes on Running #1: Slow and Steady

I ran down and then up the hill today. It was straight forward: a kilometre down, descending 150 m, a kilometre on the flat, and then gong up 150 m over a a kilometre and a half. Today, like yesterday, I held back, kept a steady pace, never pushed myself, and did it in about 35 minutes. I remember doing the same run in in January, but this time, I don’t feel totally spent and exhausted by the end, as as I did in January. In running, as in writing, slow and steady?

Notes on Running #1: Hold Back

Where we are living for the next few months is in Santander, Colombia, halfway up the hill, at about 1550m. Any direction, out the door, means either going up or down 500 m. Every run is a hill trail run. Today, I went for an accidental long run.

For the first time, in months, I seriously held back. I ran up the hill, focused on form. Any time I felt myself going hard, I consciously went easy. I held back, up and down the hill. I never went beyond easy. As a consequence of deliberate restraint, today felt like I ran further and more steadily than I have before.

My run turned into an hour of easy running, I took the time to walk for five minutes. Then I spent ten minutes stretching. The result? Holding back made for an enjoyable run. It wasn’t my fastest or my most intense, but it was one of the more pleasant runs.

Hold back, who knew.

Writer’s Diary #38 – Don’t Forget to Breathe

This morning, with the mist over the hills, I went for a run for the first time in a few months. Last night, I started in on Lindsay A. Freeman’s lovely little book Running, from Duke’s series on Practices. Since I’ve not run in a few months, I decided to follow a training app and start at the beginning with the first one. It was a recovery session. I went slow. Easy. I was able to hold conversation. I held a lot back.

As I ran, for not a very long time, it struck me writing can be the same.

Too often, we write ourselves spent. We write ourselves to excess and exhaustion. Then, we stop for days on end. What if the way to approach words has more in common with running than it is usually given credit for? Haruki Murakami, of course, thinks about the connection between words and steps his memoir. It’s not a new connection. But, it is worth repeating. Not every sessions on a computer should be a mad sprint to the end. Maybe nothing should a mad sprint.

Go steady. Go slow. Don’t forget to breathe.