The Summer of Slow Forever: It’s OK to Rest Now.

When you have been doing too much, running yourself ragged, fueled by stress and adrenaline for years, you can no longer see that you have been running yourself ragged. That you are caught up in a nonstop To Do list (including tons of training, if you’re the athletic type) and no longer holding the time and space to slow down long enough to actually savor your life and the people in it.

I can see it from here, though. I can see it in my past three (or six) years. I can see it in friends who tell me they can’t sleep. In athletes I know who hurt like hell and still can’t take a break. In people I know on the verge of a meltdown from stress and not prioritizing self care at all because they are “too busy.” Any of these sound familiar?

I am not saying I have all the answers and am holier than thou, by any means. I do, though, have a different vantage point than I have ever had before as I have been at a pace of “DEAD STOP” for three months now. And it has been BEAUTIFUL.

I stopped running myself ragged three months ago when my adrenal glands demanded mercy. I was halfway through a 5K on a hot May day when my body yelled “NOPE.” So of course, I kept going. A week or two later, I was halfway through an 8K on a hot June evening when my body yelled “STILL NOPE.” So of course, I kept going. I pushed through, because that’s what we do, right? No matter what, we push through. We get ‘er done. We might get ‘er done in the medical tent, but by golly, we’ll get ‘er done. Then I decided it was time to dial up my speed work – hilarious in hindsight – and two miles into a four mile tempo run, my body yelled “OH HELLLLLLLLLLL NO”. And really, really meant it this time. I could barely move. I walked part way home and had to call my husband for a ride. And then my doctor showed me a graph of my meager adrenal function…and I stopped.

I had run myself into the ground, literally and figuratively. And I knew I had to truly, deeply rest for some months to heal. So all summer, my pace has been roughly equivalent to a sloth swimming through molasses. (I don’t actually know if sloths can swim, but you get the idea.) And it’s been glorious.

Yoga classes. Dog walks. Hikes in the woods. BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS. Snuggling in the hammock.

YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS please.

This is important whether or not you are an athlete. But we athletes are particularly prone to compulsiveness, it seems. It seems unimaginable to stop for a while, or even to take it slow. And it’s actually not. If you embrace it, it can be nothing short of glorious. Even if you’re not an athlete at all, but a super-busy human, working, maybe a parent, perhaps a single parent (god bless you!) it can seem impossible to stop. The To Do list never gets any shorter. And it never will.

Thankfully, I’ve come to a point where I can once again see that life is more than the Sacred Training Schedule and the Almighty To Do List. Much, much more.

The best parts of life happen in the slow spaces, the quiet spaces. If you are going fast all the time, you never see them…it’s all just a big blur.

Morning meditation.
Sitting here now, listening to my dog softly snore.
Studying my father’s blue eyes.
Sitting still and talking with my husband.
Watching birds with my son.

THOSE are the “to do” items that matter most. And they are all things I never had time for when I was speeding through life. My son and I called this the Summer of Slow. And he says he wants every summer to be like this. I do, too. I want EVERY season to be like this. It doesn’t mean I’m never going to run again…just that I’m not intending to speed through LIFE.

Yes, I still have to work. You probably do too. I’m incredibly blessed by a supportive and energetic husband who carries the brunt of the weight at home.  Even if you are not in a similar situation, I bet you can do less.

How can you sleep better? How can you heal your pain? How can you reduce your stress level?

Slow your roll. Strive to do less, not more. Give yourself permission to just stop and savor.

You can slow down, now. You can even just stop for a while if you need to. You can rest now, my friend. You may not think you can, but you can.

I swear it will be so worth it.

  • Linda Neff

    Excellent post Sue and so, so true. Thank you for sharing! xoxo