How to Set the Perfect Pace for a Positive Lifestyle

Why quitting the comparison game is important for moving at your own speed.

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Posted in , Oct 17, 2019

Setting your own pace

During my summer vacation, I made a promise to myself—I was going to go out every day on what I dubbed a “walk-run.” I pledged to travel the same mile-long route each day in some combination of walking, jogging and running.

As long as I returned with flushed cheeks and audible breath, I decided, I will have done what I set out to do. Some days, when it was hot or I was tired, there was far more walking than running. On other days, I felt the energy to dial it up and run.

Over the course of a week, I noticed that my body knew how to set its own pace. I didn’t need to make a plan for the walk-to-run ratio; my legs would find their speed as the outing unfolded, my breath would find its rhythm, and I would complete the loop in whatever way met my physical and emotional needs on that particular day.

It occurred to me during those outings that setting the right pace—and trusting myself to know when to level up or down—is a key skill in pursuit of a positive lifestyle.

It can be hard to find the right pace for ourselves, though, especially in the age of social media when everything we do seems to be tracked and measured against what everyone else is doing. To me, this cultural pressure only makes it more important for each of us to remain present to our own needs, rather than comparing ourselves to what we perceive in others.

The 19th century naturalist Henry David Thoreau offers this reflection: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple-tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?”

So as you journey into the next season of the year, will you walk or run along your positive path? Or will you set out in some combination of the two today, knowing that each new day afterward will unfold at its own pace?

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