Lately, I’ve been running fast, at least, as fast as I can run. That’s one of my long term goals – to be able to run faster. But sometimes it’s harder to slow myself down than it is to go all out.
I admit, there is a certain amount of, let’s see, exhaustion, contributing to my decision to run slowly. But there are other considerations, I swear!
How else could I work on my bio-mechanics other than slowing down my run, thereby allowing myself more time and attention to the placement of my feet, the flexion of my ankles, the rotation of my torso and, of course, the all-important pelvic tilt?
Without the tension that I find still plagues me when I run fast enough to challenge my current lung capacity, my runs take on a more meditative quality. I feel like my body is coming into more harmony with the actions, motions and positions of running. My steps, though slow, have a refreshing sense of lightness.
Until I start feeling a twinge of knee pain.
By this point, though, I’m accustomed to feeling the twinges as a welcome corrective for my running form. In this slow run, I am trying new methods and I must expect that some of them would not work out exactly as I intend. Not at first anyway. Most of the time, I respond to the twinge by re-adjusting my stride back to where I know I won’t hurt. But every now and then, I keep going through the twinge of pain, paying particular attention to the changes I made, because I’m learning how to feel when my body is telling me to stop because I’m about to hurt myself and when to keep going because my body is just protesting change (or the “new world order” as I like to joke).
When it’s just protesting the new world order, I know it within five minutes or so. If the pain fades, then I’m right, and if it doesn’t, then I give up the changes and revert to baseline to prevent potential injury.
It isn’t that I don’t do these things when I’m running faster, but that I can’t devote as much attention to them if I’m also pushing the speed. I get distracted when I’m moving fast, as much by the effort of the speed as by the clock itself, which becomes an enemy to fight. By giving myself the right to run slow, the clock settles into a blissful neutrality.
Okay, that’s a lie. I do feel a bit irritated to see I’m running 14 minute miles. I feel awkward as other runners glide past me with ease, knowing I could go faster, knowing they would still pass me at my maximum speed… So, I scoff at their speed. Sure, she goes fast, but she stops after three laps, I assure myself, and, just look at that form, he’s just begging for an injury. But beneath it simmers an envy at their carefree strides that take them past me again and again.
So I convince myself to take pride in running slow in the hopes that improvement in form will lead to a natural increase in speed. And I take comfort in knowing just how far I’ve already come, from being unable to run five minutes without debilitating knee pain to running more than 60 minutes with only the normal sore muscles that come from the socially acceptable masochism we call running.