Running Rhythm: Slow Down

7 years ago
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Mascara dampens my eyelids the minute I open the front door to leave the comfort of our air-conditioned house. Humidity immediately presses my lungs a few inches smaller, Ryan’s words “take it easy” ring in my ears before I insert my earbuds and quiet the world around me with music.

Starting slowly isn’t a problem. A little sore from the previous day’s long run, my muscles need a few minutes to find ground. Balmy air blankets my body; I felt my legs picking up pace, the heat working out aches and worries at the same time. The fast stride is freeing, but I force myself to slow down.

Left. Pause. Right. Pause. Left.

Thick, hazy air lulls my legs into submission, slowly moving along to the cadence I had planned.

Left. Pause. Right.

Right. Pause. Left.

Credit Image: wiennat on Flickr

Propelled by muscle memory, my body pushes through the familiar route without thought, allowing my mind to wander. My growing to-do list plays on an endless loop in the background.

Dinner for the week – turkey burgers, tacos, homemade pizza.

I should make bread tomorrow.

Bangs or no bangs?

Need bananas.


Right. Left. Right. Left.

You and me could write a bad romance.

Left. Right. Left. Right.

Lady Gaga invades my subconscious. My controlled pace quickens with the beat. Sweat burns my eyes. Slow down.

Working against the music, I concentrate on matching the slapping of my feet against the pavement to my mental count.

One and two. Three and four.

Slowing down should be simple, especially with sweat coursing down my back and the muggy air tangling my ponytail into a damp nest against my neck.

It’s not.

I can’t imagine that Lady Gaga slows down when the lights on stage get too hot.


Slow down.

Five and six. Seven and eight.

Go Brooklyn, go Brooklyn ...

LL Cool J pulls my legs into a slower, smoother run, offering relief from the pounding beats that normally pulse out of the metallic pink square that logs all of my miles with me, clipped to my shirt or shorts.

Relaxed, my arms swing back and forth. Dusk threatens to slide into darkness. I fleetingly wonder how fireflies know to glow as the night fades. Maybe they blink on and off in the daylight, but they’re eclipsed by the sun? An easy fact to find, but I intentionally let the question dissipate into the air behind me. Some magic shouldn’t be explained by science.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

One and two. Three and four. Five and six. Seven and –

The hill.

The one that always hurts.

Up and down. My legs are pistons, tired yet strong. Up and down. My breath catches. Up and down.

The ground levels out, and I gasp a little before regaining my breath and my stride.

Left. Pause. Right.

Right. Pause. Left.

I want somebody to speed it up for me, then take it down slow. There’s enough room for both.

Right and left.

Left and right.

Madonna might be onto something. An almost imperceptible breeze grazes my cheek.

Right. Left. Right. Left.


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