Day #24: The Time to Slow Down is Now!

slow down for run5

Often in the marathon – at mile 10 or 17, and frequently at mile 21 –  the internal warning lights flash fiery orange and the runner questions seriously whether he had better slow down. “I don’t think I can keep the pace,” he worries, more deadly earnest than usual. 1,000 meters later, “I am over my head, in no man’s land, and out of control.” By this point, the race is lost.

In a marathon, the stakes of too speedy a pace are great, and a flub in the direction of too quick can mean utter failure, missing a long sought after goal and in many cases an injury.

My latest mantra came to me on the trails today and teaches how to defeat such a fate: Slow Down Now! The warning lights, the check engine light and the odometer-tripped maintenance marker all flickered and drew my attention. Not because I was going into the red zone. In truth, I was running along easily, coursing upward turns on dirt trails and loving life. I was nowhere in the vicinity of even 70% effort. But something in me – must be some maturity that is finally materializing after decades of “uncommon sense” – clicked and said Slow Down Now!

The key to this training mantra is an awareness of the big picture. It is looking at your running not in terms of today alone – or this week or month alone – and not even in terms of the next 5k, 10k or marathon goal you are pointing to. Instead, Slow Down Now is a truism which says, “Pay me now with disciplined, excellent miles, trodden day in and day out, focused on excellence of form and attitude — and you will be rewarded one day with a long, healthy career in which you excelled at being the best you could be.”

For far too many years I have run the roads – in training and in races – as if with the fierce competitive attitude of an animal of prey – not sure who was about to do the feasting. Now, I am investing bravely for the long haul, confident in my real goal – to win at the longevity. One day, because I slowed down today, I will speed up in the last 1,000 meters of the greatest race of my life.

Run smart, and slow down now!

~Coach Reed

image credit: biscuitsmlp