Leave the hare at home. What you can learn from this tortoise on your next adventure

6DT- one tree hillIf there was one motto that saw me through my recent adventures along the Six Dales Trail in England’s Yorkshire Dales, it was “pace yourself”.

At 38 miles, the trail was long enough to be a challenge, even when spread out over three days. We also had to factor in an additional 8 miles or so for getting lost and getting to our off-trail accommodations

6DT - cover
A re-creation of the guidebook’s cover

We were, after all, just a ragtag group of hobby runners and a few walkers. Many weren’t in great shape, and a few had injuries to contend with.

Add in some brutally hot, record-breaking heat and you up the ante by a couple of notches.

Yet … although it was hard going at times and very hot, not once did I feel that I was at the end of my physical abilities. I never hit a wall. My body didn’t hurt.

I could have kept going for another three days and 46 miles (74 km) or more. My body felt as good at the end as it did in the beginning.

The secret, I believe, is that I took it slow and steady, and I listened to my body.

6dt-sheep-and-trees.jpg

We weren’t competing, I told myself. This isn’t a race. The point is to complete the trail and have fun doing it. To enjoy the company and the scenery: gorgeous green, sheep-dotted rolling hills bordered by ancient stone walls; carpets of delicate bluebells nodding in tune to the babbling brooks running alongside them; meadows blooming with gorse and heather-covered moors under a wide-open sky.

6DT - bluebells

So I went at the same pace as I did on my training runs, or slower. In fact, our running was interspersed with bouts of walking due to difficult terrain, getting our bearings on in sparsely marked areas, or when we needed a break.

This same moderation also saw me through my trip off the trail, too.

I could have stuffed myself silly and over-imbibed; I had several very good excuses for doing it. One, the cost of food and drink is significantly less than in Zurich, where most of us live. Another, the belief that we deserve to reward myself for physical exertions; and third, I was on vacation with a group of friends.

Instead, I listened to my body: I only ate when I was hungry; I didn’t finish my plate if I was already full. I limited myself to one pint during the day while still on trail and drank plenty of water.

Maybe it’s because I wanted to treat my amazing body as best as I could: I didn’t want to make it extra tired digesting what I was eating in addition to carrying me over meadows, mountains and moors.

6DT - moors

By pacing my drinking, I was able to be among the last ones standing at night, yet feel clear-headed and ready to go in the mornings.

This is probably one of the few times where I’ve been on a vacation and come back feeling lighter and better than before, ready and eager to go on a casual workout run, and energized to get back to my work.

6DT - god's own country

Normally, I feel relaxed, but not very energetic. I also feel repentant for overindulging, and tell myself I must exercise and detox in order to burn off the excesses from the trip.

I pulled a tortoise on this trip and I’d highly recommend it.

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5 comments

    • Thanks! I actually surprised myself yesterday at the pool while doing long laps. Normally, I consider myself a weak swimmer. Three weeks ago in the same pool, I struggled to do the crawl all the way across. Yesterday, I found a good, really slow rhythm. And I was able to do it without getting tired. I felt I could have kept going after a few laps. So I guess listening to my own advice to “pace myself” really works! I’m sure I also got some gains in endurance from the last few weeks of training and the Trail itself; it felt pretty good!

      Liked by 1 person

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