Once upon a time, I paid a lot of attention to how far and fast I ran. And in the context of my goals, the details mattered. I was training for marathons and other races, and the work I put in was directly reflected in my event-day performance. I kept precise records of my mileage and pace. I endured weekly speed workouts at the track, long runs, tempo runs, and hill repeats. I arranged my life based on the rhythms of the training cycle, and I enjoyed it.
As my life has changed (and my body has aged), my relationship with running has evolved. What was once an opportunity to test and challenge myself has evolved into a chance to move and breathe. But while I have long since hung up my racing shoes, I have yet to part with my running watch. This colossally out of date monstrosity tracks speed, pace, and elevation. And for better or worse, It also invites comparison - yielding pride and disappointment depending on the day's conditions and my energy level. But on a recent trip, I neglected to pack this constant companion. At first I panicked - how would I know how far and fast I had gone? How would I qualify whether it was a good or bad run?
I set out feeling unsettled by the lack of a destination and plan, but as I continued, the tension began to melt away. And suddenly, the lack of certainty became freeing. With no mileage goal to hit and no pace to maintain, I felt free to slow down to read a poster about a current exhibit at the art museum, stop and snap pictures of the sun rising over the water, and follow a detour through a charming historic street.
Measurements and targets are helpful when aiming for a specific goal, but setting them aside can help us slow down - literally and figuratively. How can you stop analyzing and simply enjoy your surroundings today?