Word Up Wednesday: Pace Yourself / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

As promised, I am continuing Word Up Wednesday by featuring reflections written during my Clinical Pastoral Education Internship. The following was written in October 2015. Again, Scripture was added and minor edits made to be shared here on www.reverendmotherrunner.com

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
— Hebrews 12:1

I am an avid runner. Mostly, I run for leisure. A few times a year I run in race: 5K, 10K, and half-marathons. In eight days, I will be running the Trenton 10K for the third year in a row. It’s my favorite race—the course is beautiful, the crowd is fun, and the race medal is always nice.

Every time I train for a race, I learn a life lesson. This race, I learned a lot about pacing. There were days I would go for a 5 mile run, and by mile 3 I was worn out, I didn’t want to go any further, and by the time the run ended I’d be sluggish and spent. There were other days when I would get to mile 5, finish in record time, and I still had energy to go on further. Interestingly enough, my face and body language were markedly different in those runs. I grimaced my way through the one kind of run, where the other runs my face and body were more relaxed. The BIG difference between the two kinds of runs lies in my performance during the first mile. I have a desired pace I like to run. When I run the first mile at or too close to my target pace, with my attention on speed, by the end I have no energy. When I run the first mile considerably slower than my target pace, focusing on my breath and form, I hit my stride—running steady a little faster than my desired pace—and by the end I have enough energy to sprint for the last quarter of a mile. I fare much better when I pace myself.

image from www.pexels.com

image from www.pexels.com

Life is a lot like running, especially when we embark on a new endeavor. When we pace ourselves, we do something at a slow and steady rate or speed in order to avoid overexertion. Sadly, pacing is a lost art in our day and age. We do more and more and more in less and less time. We multitask. We over schedule. Very often, we move at breakneck speeds until we are overcome with stress, despair, injury, and sometimes illness. What would happen if we slowed down to focus on our breath? What would happen if we checked in with ourselves about how we are feeling? How would life expand if we paced ourselves? 

When I pace myself when running, not only do I feel more relaxed, but I also have a sense of joy when I’m running. When I pace myself, I can see the beauty around me—the vibrant colors of fall leaves on the trees around me. When I pace myself, I can hear the chirping of birds and the laughter of children on the playgrounds during a run. When I pace myself, I can smell the aroma of fresh baked pies in the air as I pass by a bakery. When I over exert myself because I’ve started too fast, my senses are dulled by pain and fatigue. It is the same with life. When we slow down, when we check in with our selves—body, mind, heart, and soul, when we pace ourselves, we become attuned to joy, peace, calm, and love within us and around us.

May I share a prayer with you?
Gracious God, grant us, we pray, the ability to pace ourselves in life. When we are in too much of a hurry, we pray that you would give us a sense of calm and peace. When we have become complacent and dragging our feet, we pray that you would energize us. In all things, we pray that we might sense your loving and joyful presence with us, as we journey through life with each other. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.