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December 31, 2013 at 9:43 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Pace Your Life: The 4 Biggest Pace Problems and What to Do About Them

By Jeffrey VanWingen M.D. More Blogs by This Author

Every May in my home town thousands of runners line up on one of the main roads to challenge themselves in The Riverbank Run. Not to brag, but it's the largest 25 kilometer race in the world. I am always amazed at how the race organizers and runners meticulously organize based on pace. Runners line up based on their pace, the seven minute milers ahead of the eight minute milers and so on. Special runners, the "pacers," navigate the race holding big signs that alert other runners to their pace. Some runners keep on the tails of the pacers in order to keep a consistent miles per minute pace.

As I was out running today, minding my own pace, I got to thinking about this concept of pacing in general. In what ways do we measure life's pace? I realized there are both healthy and unhealthy ways to go about it. These are the four biggest pace issues as I see them:

Pace Problem 1: Too Much Work

For most of us, our lives are filled with stuff. It seems that there is no shortage of things to occupy our time. We over extend ourselves. We have difficulties saying "no" to requests from others. Job duties seem to be ever-expanding in an era of fat trimming and down-sizing. At its worst, each day is filled with an attempt to chip away at an insurmountable amount of obligations, duties and responsibilities. The best we can hope for at this pace is to simply get caught up - to reach zero again. And if we do, we are often behind again after a rest from the increased pace required to get caught up.

Try This: You're only human. Be honest with yourself and others about your workload. Do what you can at a reasonable pace and let that be enough.

Pace Problem 2: Too Much Technology

I grew up in an era when I entered a different world upon leaving my house. My phone had a 10 foot cord and that was the extent of my ability to be contacted. In this time, a smart phone was as much science fiction as the tricorder in Star Trek. Now I have a hard time fathoming life without it - most of us would. But still, I recognize the trouble that this invites into my life. I now have the responsibility of being contacted any where, any time. I also have the responsibility of checking my email several times per day. And then there's Facebook. These details have the potential to complicate our lives. We get easily sucked into these details that are not entirely necessary, quickening the momentum in our daily lives toward an uncomfortable pace. 

Try This: Determine what's important and what's not. Skim off the minor details.

Pace Problem 3: Too Little Movement

As an athlete trains, their movements become more efficient and muscle grows. Pace naturally picks up. Physical abilities spill over into other aspects of life and improves stamina and focus.  Athletes are always looking to improve their abilities.  In this case, a faster pace is better. For some this might be shaving time off their 10 minute mile pace. It might be just getting off the couch and moving. Whatever, make it your aim to move more.

Try This: Get moving. Take regular walks. Make time for physical fitness.

Pace Problem 4: Too Little Reflection Time

From the moment we wake up we begin processing information.  A typical morning may involve tending to hygiene, foraging for food, navigating a busy commute and then settling into a job.  Things may not let up until the head hits the pillow.  For this pace, the ability to deliberately slow is good. Purposeful relaxation is helpful. Slowing the mind with relaxation, even for a matter of minutes, is helpful at improving focus and outlook.

Try This: Make reflection time a priority. Just a few more minutes of quiet time to yourself each day will make a surprising difference.


As for me? I struggle just like everyone else! I can  be too quick where I should be slower and too slow where I should be faster. But then, it's the beginning of a new year, a time for change. My goals for this year: a faster body pace for better health and a slower mind pace for greater happiness. How about you?

How's your pacing?

Is it a healthy or unhealthy pace?

How can you improve it?

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