In business and in racing you need to find your happy pace!

Once again, this year, I had the honor of running the Flying Pig 10k and 5k with the Having the Courage to Change women.  These women are on an incredible journey as they recover from a variety of addictions and emerge healthy, happy and clean. I have volunteered as their personal trainer and nutrition coach for three years, so I have had the opportunity to watch them grow and be part of their journey.

As we were running the 5k, I noticed a number of kids with shirts that said “Find your Happy Pace.”  That made me smile because running, business and life are all about finding your happy pace.

For some runners, their happy pace is a fast pace and setting a PR (personal record.)  For others, like the Having the Courage to Change Women, their happy pace is the one that gets them to the finish line, however fast or slow that might be, with a sense of accomplishment and pride.  People’s happy pace for their personal and professional lives is quite similar.

In the past, my happy pace for running was the fast, PR happy pace.  But over the last two years I have run races that were so spectacular, such as Big Sur with its incredible views and Labor of Love with its incredible 50 mile distance, that my happy pace has been to just run for the pure love and joy of it and take my time.

After running Labor of Love two weeks prior to the Flying Pig, my body was fatigued from a year of heavy mileage training and the race.  It was nice to run the Pig races with the women at their pace…a slower, joyous, celebratory pace.  That pace screamed of passion and perseverance. It was their happy pace and mine.

After running a 50 mile race, the rule is to take 50 days of recovery.  That means you’re still training but at a more moderate pace and running moderate distances to let your body heal from the race and the year of training leading up to it.  For the first two to three weeks after the Labor of Love, my body was enjoying the lower mileage runs with very moderate weekly mileage.  My pace after the race was about the same as it was during race training…slow and steady.

By the fourth week, things began to change.  While I was still running short distances and low weekly mileage (5-6 mile runs three times a week), I felt my pace starting to pick up.  My Garmin (which tracks my mileage and pace) confirmed that.  There were several runs where my pace was close to my PR pace days.  It felt good to know those days weren’t gone.  On those runs, faster was my happy pace.

My next big race will be the Marine Corp Marathon in October.  This is a race I have wanted to run since I began running about seven years ago.  I haven’t decided what pace I will run…faster to possibly set a PR or slower to enjoy a race I’ve dreamed about for years.  All I know is that whatever pace I decide to run, it will be my happy pace.

So what does this story have to do with business?

We live in a society where instant gratification is the norm, and it’s often expected.  While running your work and personal life at race pace is required at times, especially if you’re on a deadline, most people don’t have to work and live at race pace all the time. In fact, working and living at race pace, like training and racing at race pace all the time, can lead to extreme fatigue and burnout.  In our professional and personal lives, we need to find our happy pace the same way we do in racing.  What we must remember is that our happy pace is not always the same pace. Sometimes our happy pace is fast.  Sometimes it’s slow.  And sometimes it’s something in between.

To find your happy pace, you have to evaluate the situation and set your pace accordingly.  When we do that, we get to the finish line with a smile on our face and a sense of accomplishment…just like the Having the Courage to Change women.


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