The days go by, and we continue to “hunker down” here in Utah, and across the United States. The world is in a weird time. There is nothing certain but uncertainty itself. I am learning to pace myself. We are in for the long haul here. There’s no quick fix to a pandemic, no magic pill, no miraculous snap of the fingers and “poof!” … evaporation. In truth, this is a contagion marathon of epic proportion that we are all being forced to participate in, and it is not an easy sprint. But, we can all make it though this! Perhaps there are some tips from my running analogy that can help us successfully get through to the finish line!
I’ve run many marathons in my life – both the Full 26.2 miles and Half 13.1 miles, (plus a lot of 10K and 5K races in-between). Jeff started running with me about 5 years ago. We know about pacing. It’s critical to find a sustainable speed in order to prevent burn-out and that dreaded phenomenon of “hitting the wall”, when a body and mind suddenly cannot go another step. To prevent this – it is not only okay, but wise and healthy, to start extra slow at the starting line, then gradually pick up the pace to a comfortable rhythm, and throughout the race allow periods of “slowing down”. One of my favorite techniques for training and for finishing a race strong is using the run-walk style. For example, I might run for 15 minutes, walk for 1 minute, run for 20 minutes, walk for 2 minutes … and so on. This technique can build muscle, stave off an over-production of lactic acid (avoiding cramps), prevent injury, and most importantly keep the mind strong and happy. After all, knowing you can walk in 15 minutes makes the 15 minutes of running feel easier. You can take the race in small bite-sized chunks, and just put one foot in front of the other. You run to a point you can see and then set a new point and another short distance goal… etc. until soon you realize you have put miles behind you!
The run–walk method involves running for a predetermined length of time, taking a planned walk break, and repeating. The purpose of the walk break is to reduce stress on the body and mind. The run–walk method is often associated with beginners, but more experienced runners can (and do) use itRunners World Magazine
I’ve been thinking about how I can better practice a healthy run-walk approach during this epic marathon of “sheltering in place, and physical distancing“. How am I “slowing down” my pace – giving myself mental and social breaks, and allowing my mind and spirit a chance to rejuvenate?
Here are my 5 Tips [with a bonus].
1. LET THE SUN SHINE IN
I get outside at least once per day. There’s nothing better than breathing in some fresh air, and soaking up some good old fashioned Vitamin D. If I don’t have time to walk around the block, I at least sit on my front porch for 10-15 minutes. Breathe. Bask. Repeat.
2. SOUL FOOD
I don’t know about you, but I am having no problem with finding enough edibles… [yes, “slowing down” on consumption is definitely a daily goal]. But, what I am often missing is feeding my soul with at least one [hopefully more] uplifting & edifying thing. A good book. Some scripture study. Watching some inspiring videos [I recommend trying: these, and these and Don’t Miss This ], and definitely listening to some favorite music is a must-do each day [bonus points for dancing and singing along]!
Running, walking, dancing, skipping, jumping, swaying, hula, stretching, yoga … pick your pleasure! Just get up out of that chair, off that couch and out of the covers and MOVE that glorious body of yours for at least 30 minutes each day! It does even more for the mind than the body – and it’s a win-win for both.
4. SACRED REST
Our body needs sleep. I hope we are all working hard on getting enough of it, and keeping to a good sleep schedule. I struggle with this personally – I’m a night owl at heart – and my sleep cycle easily get’s messed up – but, I am working on going to bed at a set time each night and waking up at a set time each morning. It’s very rewarding. Not only do we need physical rest for our bodies, we also need to find “sacred rest” within our soul. Taking time to breathe deeply, commune with our inner voice and our higher power. The practice of daily prayer, meditation and relaxation cannot be praised enough for all the good it does. I would argue this is actually essential – like water – for our health and survival.
5. SHUTTING IT OFF
One of the happiest ways I’ve been practicing healthy “distancing” to soothe my soul is turning off social media and “the news”. I know it sounds radical, especially as much as I am a living example of being “connected” to everything with everything – phone, tablet, computer, TV, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… and then there’s all of the apps on my phone, and the alerts for this and that… the list of constant interruption mental energy expenditure goes on and on and on!
But, I have discovered I don’t actually have to watch the news every day [or 3 or 4 times a day]. Nope. I don’t have to read the morning alerts, or the afternoon updates. I don’t even have to check in with my social media accounts, and scroll through all of the funny/angry/sad/entertaining/maddening chaos filling my mind up with all the emotions, and causing angst and anxiety…
Instead, I can actually disable the apps for a while, hush the alerts, choose not to turn on the TV. And when I do … a magical thing happens… the world keeps turning! The sun comes up and it sets [and I watch it]. The birds keep singing [and I hear them]. The flowers keep blooming [and I smell them], the vegetables keep growing [and I taste them].
I watch out my window and see my neighbors walking their dogs, and the children riding their bikes. I talk on the phone with my father in law, and video chat with my friend. I write in my journal. I walk on the trail. I snuggle my grand-baby. Life is good. Everything is right. There is joy.
The social media + news cycle is like a Journalistic Soap Opera. We can walk away for a day, a week, or even a month, and pick up the plot line in a few minutes the moment we decide to tune back in. Sure, there’s a LOT happening every day, and a lot of changes and plot twists … but, I will let you in on a secret.
*whispering voice* … We do not need the news even half as much as it needs us…. Gasp! I know, right?
I invite you to try taking a break. Work your way up to it. Try walking away from all social media, news, TV, video for 1 hour. Then look at a few things for 1 minute. 2 hours, then allow 2 minutes. 4 hours, 8 hours, etc! Pretty soon you’ll have worked your way up to a full day, without any outside interruptions and mass produced virtual invasion. You might even decide you can keep up that pace for little while longer.
6. BONUS – GET CREATIVE!
I can’t believe how creative people are getting about expressing their hidden talents during this unique time of “time”. People are serving, and giving and entertaining. People are sewing masks, and donating, and making gifts… all of us have something inside of ourselves to GIVE to the world. Maybe you want to sing, dance, paint, write, compose! Do it! Maybe you have mad baking or cooking skills! Please do that! Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, or how to play the guitar, or how to fold origami? … Now is your time. Let’s make Covid-19 our muse – our catalyst for change – our game changer. The sky is the limit! I’m excited to hear all about what you are doing right now to grow, learn, serve, and create! Post it in the comments!
These are just five [six] of the ways I am “pacing myself” in the pandemic. They are good habits for any time of life, but seem to be particularly important right now. This is another great thing COVID-19 is teaching me; how to to Slow Down, Breathe, Be Still, and Know God. The race is not over yet, we may have a long way to go yet before we can cross the finish line, but we are in this together! One of the best parts of running a race is all of the cheering, the volunteers, the support staff, the random people who yell “great job! Keep going!” and “You can do it!” It really helps. I’ve had angels in the crowd who cheered me on when my mind and spirit were flagging…
So, today, I am rooting for you! Yes, you can do it! I think you are doing GREAT! This is an incredibly hard race you are running, but, LOOK you’re doing it! That’s all that matters! it doesn’t matter how fast or how slow or if you have a down day and then an up day. Just keep taking one day at a time, one step forward, and another and another! Remember the run-walk method helps to win the race. It’s going to be okay. It’s going to work out. One day in the future we will be crossing the finish line, looking back on all of these days we covered with awe, wonder, and a fair amount of pride.
We did it. Together. [At a safe distance] 🙂
I want to leave you with the glorious angel voice of Sissel. I invite you to turn on this video, sit back, close your eyes, and just breathe!
May you have peace, feel loved, and be well. – Holly
SLOW DOWN – lyrics by Chuck Girard
In the midst of my confusion
In the time of desperate need
When I am thinking not too clearly
A gentle voice does intercede
Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of….the Lord
Slow down and hear His voice
And know that He….is….God
In the time of tribulation
When I’m feeling so unsure
When things are pressing in about me
Comes a gentle voice so still, so pure
Slow down, slow down, be still
Be still and wait, on the Spirit of…….the Lord
Slow down and hear His vo…….ice
And know that He………is God
And know that He….is…God