Finding a Comfortable Place or Liferunning Lesson #3

To read Liferunning Lesson 1 click here

For Liferunning Lesson 2 click here

On Running: Getting to know your body is an important part of beginning any new physical activity. The more you get out there, the more you will realize where your comfort zone is. Some people have naturally faster and longer strides than others. Beginning runners should start out slow and set goals of short distances. I even encourage beginners to run a little, walk a little, until their endurance improves. If your starting distance or pace is unattainable, discouragement sets in. Start out slow and gradually increase both.

When my husband was in college, he lost seventy pounds over a nine month period by taking up running. (I’ve lost about the same amount in the same amount of time before, but my labors yielded another human being!)

On his first time out, he couldn’t even make it one time around the West Virginia University coliseum, a distance of about a quarter mile. By the end of the year, he was running ten miles every morning with the cross country team. He increased his goals gradually and never gave up.

I won’t tell you how much of that weight my sweet (and handsome) man has gained back, but I will tell you that he continues to run every day. Just not ten miles at a pop.

On Life: When I finished graduate school, my first job was as a staff psychologist at a rehabilitation hospital. I worked with a team of physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and other specialists as needed. My caseload included victims of stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and amputees, just to name a few. I was learning medical jargon and physiology that I had never been exposed to in the classroom. I really enjoyed my work. I grew professionally and learned so much from my colleagues.

Because I loved my job, I poured myself into it. Hospital work can be very intense and stressful. It wasn’t long before I was going in an hour earlier to do my paperwork and staying very late at night to see all of my therapy patients.

At first I didn’t mind the grueling schedule. I was fresh out of school. Ready to change the world. I loved my job and the people I worked with.

How long do you think that lasted?

I worked at that hospital for three years. My last year there was miserable. I came home from work every evening, lay myself down on the couch and cried. I didn’t even know why I was crying, except that the stress of the day had to be decompressed somehow.

Here’s the lesson learned: Pacing oneself is so important. If you start out too fast, you are not going to make it for the long haul. The key is to warm up slowly, at a comfortable pace, and gradually build up speed as you get comfortable and understand what you are capable of.

Giving too much of yourself too soon has a demoralizing effect on a person. This is often true in relationships as well.

Pace yourself. Pick up speed cautiously. Make sure you are ready to handle that acceleration. And when you are sure…Baby, you gonna fly!


  1. says

    I’m definitely a start out too fast kind of girl and then burn out before I get anywhere… I enjoyed the reminder that it is okay to slow down a little. Funny thing is that I did that very thing this week. Started back on my workout routine and overdid it and then had to take a couple days off to recoup! Not much accomplished there. :o) Even with getting involved in my new community I need to remember to not overdo it and neglect my relationships at home. Thanks for your encouragement!

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