Friday, 22 January 2010

Finding my happy pace

Sometimes, sitting and looking back from the vantage point of four years of increasingly more demanding run training, feel like I'll never be more than a middle distance runner.

I have spent many hours analyzing run splits and heart rate data and pace. Always looking at my pace. Always trying to reconcile the fact that I ain't going to do a 50 min 10k  or a 1:40 half if I'm averaging a 6 min/km pace.

I reconciled myself by thinking about all the time and effort that happily goes into family and work and the important relationships in my life. I grudgingly acknowledged that the overindulgence in certain vices including food may be keeping me from the leanness required to run fast and long. I even fall back to the old excuse that my body type may have been more suited for rugby or shot put or perhaps, philosophy.

But then putting on my balaclava and layers of black ninja clothing, I head outdoors into the night air and I forget everything. 

And find what I forgot.

I cut through the evening streets and then onto the bike path, like I was meant to do this my whole life. 
There is a GPS computer around my wrist but, for this moment,  I just don't care what it is calculating. 
The sounds of other people's raves fill my ears and build an evolving soundtrack to the sparks and sagas that ignite and swirl and dissipate in a reawakened consciousness.

Familiar dogs sniff my air approvingly, while their walkers recognize my red strobe flash and ninja garb and smile as I lope by.
Sweat percolates on my forehead and is brushed aside by my ever-present foil, the wind, that tests and teases me from behind every shrub and snowbank. 
I wind my way out and back on the path over bridges, along banked turns, through snow dunes and, ever so gingerly, over sheet ice. 
With every step, I remember what I forgot. 
A diurnal somnambulist, the dark, cold air reawakens and reinvigorates that which is eternal within me.
And then...just then, I find my perfect pace...not measured in time or distance but in all dimensions at once.

Exiting the outdoors and into the heated indoors, I remember, albeit briefly, why I run and bike and swim and sometimes combine the three. 

I also realize that the bytes stored on my GPS watch are not just run data, they draw a map of where I have been. 

They are my touchstone to get me closer to my happy pace...the perfect pace that transcends time and space. 



  1. Very well put. Thank you for the attempt to define why we do it. I thought about this morning as I struggled to maintain 6min/km pace...

  2. Thanks for your kind words. There is an interesting article that looks at the scientific side of this here:

  3. Fan-bloody-tastic writing! As I read this, it was as if I was there, and rarely have I read someone describe runnning in what was actually poetry--in prose no less!


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