Really really slow

I started running again more consistently. I’m slow.

By slow, I mean not as fast as I was a year or two ago. Then, I could run half as fast as the current marathon world record holder. So not really fast.

But now, I’m slower than I was when I was “fast”. It’s almost not worth it.

If I can’t run as fast as I could, or as fast as I should, or as fast as the best, why bother to get cold and tired?

I’m reading the daily readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. The first reading each day, the reading from the Psalms, is the same three days in a row. Monday through Wednesday most weeks are the same text. Thursday through Saturday are the same.

Reading the same passage three days in a row feels inefficient. Until you realize that the Sunday reading most weeks is the same as Thursday through Saturday. You read it alone until you read it together.

There is, I think, a difference between faithful and fast. Sometimes we will be fast. Sometimes we won’t. But the measure of the long-run isn’t our speed. It’s our faithfulness.

And here’s the truth about my running. I’m intentionally slow. I’m intentionally walking from time to time. I’m working to smile while running, to change my measurement from speed and duration to presence and persistence. It’s hard to slow down.

And here’s the truth about my reading. When I read the same text three days in a row, and I let it work into my mind and heart and life a bit, I begin to understand me and the text a little better. What doesn’t feel true on a grumpy Monday makes more sense as it works on me through the week.

Really really slow is often better than not at all.


My next book, for people needing to do funerals and memorial services, is now listed for pre-order. Most of you won’t need it. You won’t be leading a service. But at some point, you’ll know someone who is doing their first service. And they may need it. And by then, I’ll have it ready.

2 thoughts on “Really really slow

  1. billhanifin

    Smiling while running…what a thought! Rather than treat something we do as a release from work and other areas of our lives as another obligation or more “work”, you point out how to simmer in the enjoyment and make it work for you, not against you.

    I have found myself reading scripture with too much of a goal in mind. This post is a good reminder to slow it down, not worry about how much I read or whether I’m on a schedule, but just take a snippet that stands out and let it simmer.

    It’s hard to hear the small, still voice of God when we’re spinning.

    Thanks for yet another thoughtful and helpful post.



    1. Jon Swanson

      Thanks Bill. You understand the running challenge. After a year of a knee issue that came because of pushing against the clock, it’s a good and helpful discipline to relax the discipline and try to enjoy.

      Just a few minutes ago I talked about feeling like I was spinning. Thanks for reminding me to listen to myself. And God.


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