In a world so impressed by going fast, I am definitely a tortoise in hare’s clothing. Even though I weigh more than most of the All Blacks, without the substantial muscle mass, I think that I should be able to muster the speed of someone sized more like an Olympic track cyclist. Instead of realising that when I heft myself up hill, that I’m doing the equivalent of hiking with two fully laden suit cases. I chastise myself for being slow and not keeping up. Which leads to me pushing myself too far. Heart hammering, sweating in a singlet when everyone else around is wearing a fleece. Smiling when I see people sauntering downhill as I make my ascent. Using the last of my breath to hold a casual conversation with a passerby about the view, even though all I can see is stars. All because I don’t want to be judged as someone that isn’t fit enough for that endeavour. Or for life itself.
Certainly, I do a lot of exercise these days but I eschew the endurance work for the short sharp shock. I hiit and I grit and I spin and sprint. There are so many articles that I have devoured with my usual appetite for all things new. These articles tell me that, the short sharp intervals burn fat, and increase my fitness much quicker than steady state cardio. That all the weights I lift give me an afterburn that keeps my metabolism fired up for hours. I swallowed all of this, ignored the endurance work, and then was found wanting. Because it’s alright being strong enough to pull a car, but what is most likely to happen is that my car will run out of fuel and I’ll have to walk 10k to a petrol station and it will be all hills because this is NZ and there is a mantra of why have one hill, when you can have 9?
I had to admit that endurance work needed a place in my training repertoire.
As for pace though. Pace is personal.
While I acknowledge that there is a gap in my training in terms of endurance work. There is no requirement to be fast about it. My husband is fast. As we walked up the hill together on Friday, it became apparent after less than a dozen steps that he would do this trek much quicker than me. There was a moment when I felt bad for going slow before I realised that fast people don’t entertain a similar process about going fast. The world tells us that fast is good so there is no need for fast people to question their pace. Yet us slow coaches go in to raptures about not being good enough purely because we’re not fast. Which is skewed logic. I don’t spend time berating myself for not being tall. I accept it as is. It’s not a character defect. So I challenged myself to not think about slow as a negative. I just told him that I would go at my own pace, leaving him to go at his. Everybody is happy and has the experience that they want. In this book I was reading the other day, by Jayne Williams, the author talks about a woman that she knows who points out that the slower you go, the more endurance you have. So coming last means that you win at endurance. Which is just what I needed to draw on as I turned the corner to face yet another incline. Every slow step took me closer to winning, and I slowly won, fence post, by fence post.