I need to use an illustration from something runners deal with, though this isn’t a post about running.
I used to run a lot before my migraines have taken me away from it for over two years now. But there’s one lesson I learned from all my miles on the road that I’d like to share with you.
There’s a debate among runners about whether it’s OK to walk during your run vs. ‘real runners’ never walk. One of the biggest proponents of the former is a well-known runner named Jeff Galloway. It was his principles that I followed during all my training.
His idea is to run for some number of seconds or minutes based on your current ability, and then walk for approximately a minute or two. Repeat until you’re done with your run. You walk on a specific, regular basis whether you need to in that moment or not. This saves your legs over the long haul of the run and allows you to run longer distances with fewer injuries.
I ran an entire marathon this way. As I was passing exhausted runners in the final three miles, I realized the value of this method in running.
And over the four-plus hours during the race that I had to think about life, I realized that this is a great method for living as an autism parent, too.
But first you have to agree to the most basic principle.
It’s OK to walk.
The forces both outside and inside us push us to go as hard as we can as parents. We think we can’t miss anything for fear of missing out on an opportunity to help our children. Our lives are a roiling ocean of appointments and urgent needs we have to deal with. We run ourselves ragged to the point of collapse.
Do you really appreciate how hard you are trying already? I know our options for doing nothing are nonexistent, but ease off the accelerator for a bit. Almost none of us can keep this up.
‘Run’ a few minutes then ‘walk’ a minute. Repeat. Do a few minutes of paperwork, then do something easier for a minute. Do a few minutes of cleaning, ease up a minute. Do a few minutes of planning for an IEP meeting, rest a minute.
The key is doing it regularly and intentionally. We all get sucked into things like Facebook when we don’t want to be doing what we’re working on. I want to be clear; this is intentional rest, not distraction. Do only the task for a few minutes, then chill out for a minute. Breathe, do something easier, sit down, rest your brain and body.
Or even do a couple of minutes of the task, and rest two minutes. It doesn’t much matter. You are finding a rhythm of effort then rest and recovery that allows you to ultimately do more, pace yourself, and feel less overwhelmed.
(FYI – Galloway says your running phase should rarely last more than four minutes. Less is fine.)
I just really want you to realize that it’s OK to walk. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t feel guilty about it. (Easier said than done, I know.) Just allow yourself to try out this feeling that it’s OK.
Your life, your mental and physical health, everything about your well-being are too precious to burn up in a flash of flame every day. Deep inside, we know there’s a better version of us. This is one way to get you there.