Run like a Little Girl

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The phrase "run like a little girl" can hold unflattering meaning... particularly to little boys. But I learned today that I could benefit from running like a little girl. I began my day at the campus recreation center at my university (today is our department holiday luncheon and I needed to burn some calories before partaking of the holiday fare). During my run I observed a young couple and their daughter getting onto the track. The young girl had to be about 7 or 8-years old, probably out of school as many area counties prepared for a possible "iceageddon" in middle Tennessee. The family soon spread out around the track, each person having his or her own pace. It did not take long for me to realize the young girl knew something I did not.

Slow Down - Not
There was no way the parents would be keeping up with their daughter. The young girl ran stretches around the track at nearly a sprint, then settling into a more measured pace, and occasionally slowing to a walk. As I watched her sprint, I could not help but think to myself "Little girl- you better slow down and pace yourself." After all, that is what I and most experienced runners do. I soon found myself admiring her energy and her being blissfully oblivious to the notion that she would somehow benefit from pacing herself. When her energy waned she slowed; when she felt energized she began sprinting again. Had she "paced herself," she likely would not have had the same joyful experience. How do I know she had a joyful experience? The smile on her face and body language that suggested an absence of worry or fear made me admire her unorthodox running style all the more.

Pacing Ourselves is an Excuse
I went running this morning to burn calories and came away learning something that I already knew but have successfully denied to this point. The analogy of life as a marathon, not a sprint is one that resonates with me. Thus, pursuit of goals occurs in measured strides. After all, we would not want to burn out because we were running too fast, now would we? What a bunch of baloney that is. Too often, pacing ourselves is code for "I am scared of failure" or even "I am scared of success." If we pace ourselves we can slow down so that we do not run head-on into either failure or success. Sadly, such a strategy can put us on a journey to nowhere as we work toward an outcome but get in our own way of getting there. Moreover, an obsession with pacing ourselves can deny the joys of the journey. The little girl was running hard, having fun, and not worried about her time or distance.

Resolve to Run like a Little Girl
The sight of the little girl running around the track will hopefully stick in my memory for a long time. I need to run like her, not necessarily on the track but in terms of how I approach projects, personal growth, and relationships. It is time to shed excuses and proclamations of "pacing myself" and allow myself to grow without self-imposed constraints.