On Slowing Down and Detaching

the-straight-storyLast February and March I reached the peak of training for another half marathon. And I seemingly had slayed the injured hip dragon that has crept into my skeletal structure every year or two from overtraining.

Hmmm….not so fast.

As my long weekly Saturday run climbed from 10 to 11 and then 12 miles, which is where I would end it before tapering. Well, I never made it to the taper stage. With increasing intensity, my hip pain resurfaced until early morning on March 31st I hobbled for five extremely painful miles.

The next morning I got on a plane to Boston with my wife and daughter. By the time my feet hit land I was limping badly. During the next few days of intermittent late season snow storms I could barely walk. My in-laws have very steep stairs in their home, a harrowing adjustment after negotiating the easy climes of our ranch house in San Carlos, California. Witnessing my grimacing attempts to slowly negotiate each steps while grabbing onto the side rails was not a pretty sight.

And so by force I slowed down. Way down. As my planned half marathon was taking place on April 10th, I then had to detach from the notion of competing in that race and from running for an indefinite time afterward.

For someone who enjoys being outdoors before most anyone else is and cranking up his endorphin levels while listening to indie rock, slowing down is challenging. Detaching is that much more difficult, particularly given my addictive personality. For the first few weeks I literally felt like I was in mourning. My emotional and mindset compass was way off.

And yet just a few weeks later I’m adjusting well. My pain is now mostly tolerable. I’m walking a few brisk miles every day instead of running four times per week. While tt is slow going, I have more time to think, to listen and pay more attention to audiobooks and podcasts, and to take in my surroundings. I’m also biking more frequently on short runs to grocery stores and to my volunteering gigs at a nearby high school in Redwood City and middle school in San Carlos.

I’m enjoying this slowing down and detaching process. Case in point, I wonder if and when I’ll get back to running. My aim at this point is to get back into it with short and slow jogs this July. But I’m not so sure. By slowing down and detaching I feel better – less forced, less grinded down, and more even keeled. I haven’t gained measurable weight even though I’m burning far fewer calories. And I’ve become comfortable with the typical runners’ anxiety associated with having to begin training from ground zero yet again.

And so now let’s talk about you. Are there opportunities for you and your family to slow down and detach? Is it signing up for one less sports activity even though you are convinced your kid will love youth soccer? Is it not running hurriedly from one scheduled  event to the next all weekend long and instead engaging in creative free play time?

And what about you at work? Do you need to detach from responding to emails and texts within 60 seconds of receiving them? Do you need to detach from attending every meeting you’re invited to? Do you need to detach from multitasking during the meetings you do attend in order to be more focused? Do you need to work more slowly and with fewer distractions in order to ensure the quality of your deliverables is consistently higher? Do you need to detach from idle workplace conversations? And not that I subscribe to your being aimless and goal-less, but do you need to detach from your obsession with getting that promotion on your terms and time frame? In short, where can you slow down and detach in order to gain more ‘flow,’ attain greater peace of mind, and become more impactful?

Our world doesn’t reward slowing down and detaching. More-Faster-Better is our current and somewhat paradoxical mantra. And yet irreverent, inner directed and positively guided contrarians have an uncanny way of kicking ass, taking names and feeling more fulfilled over the long term. Don’t trust me? Just ask this guy.

Or maybe I’m completely full of crap and have been listening to too much Simon & Garfunkel.

But I don’t think so.

(Photo: The Straight Story)

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