Saturday, June 14, 2014

Slow is Good

When I first started cycling regularly in 2006, I really enjoyed seeing a whole new view of the same roads I had been driving for years simply because I was outdoors, and moving at a slower pace. In the car, I rarely paid attention to the sights as they flew by. I certainly recognized that there were houses and parks and pathways, but I didn't see the details, just the blur of movement at 60 km/h. Now on my bike, I suddenly saw houses I'd never noticed before, and quiet pathways, peaceful parks, curious signs, and of course, all kinds of fauna and flora.  It was almost as if I was seeing my town for the very first time, all over again.

 A few years later I began running, and interestingly enough, I started to notice MORE things on those same roads and pathways - things that I'd hadn't seen when I was flying by on my bike. How had I missed that cool bench? Or that log house?  Or that tree that curved up in an S shape? And what was that pretty red flower that always comes up in the Spring time?

But as slow as I was now moving, I was still strapped to a Garmin, which controlled my movements, and my mind. What was my pace? Was I meeting my goals?  What's my heart rate? How far have I gone?

Oh certainly, as I ran,  I would notice flowers, and trees, and lovely creeks bubbling under a bridge along the way, but to stop and take a picture would mean throwing off my data so I gave them all a quick glance and kept hurrying along my way.

This year, for the most part, I have all but stopped biking and running.  Instead, I have strapped on a backpack, grabbed my trekking poles, and started hiking.  I still wear my Garmin, although I rarely look at it, and I no longer worry about my pace, or my time, or even my distance. I just pack up and I go.

And at walking pace, I find I can experience the trails and pathways in all their glory.  I have time to stop along the way to look at an insect crawling along the ground, to smell a pretty flower, or to take a picture of an amazing view.  I have time to breath the air, time to smell the hot pine needles underfoot or the scent of the wild roses along the path, time to listen to the sound of a hawk or the babbling stream, or time to just to stand still and watch a deer looking back at me in equal wonder.

It's like the "Slow Movement" of  exercise and yeah, I'm liking it. A lot.