Pacing - MetroFamily Magazine
MetroFamily Magazine

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by Dorian Quillen

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Eighteen years ago when I started to ride my bicycle in endurance events, I had only one gear in mind—fast.

A novice cyclist, I thought the goal was to ride as hard and as fast as possible from the start line to the finish. To slow down or ease up would be ”wimping out.”

Or so I thought.

Many strained muscles, exhausted hours and a bruised ego later, I began to realize that if I was going to ride long races I would have to learn to pace myself. Sure, there would be times to go all out, but there would also be times to hold back and slow down. What I didn’t understand back then was that the slow times were as equally important as the fast ones.

As the school year continues to ramp up and the holidays draw nearer, many people will find themselves shifting into the only gear they know—fast. The next time they will look up will be Christmas break.

While certainly some seasons of life require times of steady work and little play, it is important to remember that we are all riding a very long race! Even in the midst of busy seasons, we still need times of quiet and rest for the restoration of our minds and bodies.

As your “to do” list grows this fall, remember to schedule some time to regain your balance. It is easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of activity and to think of “down time” as personal weakness, even laziness.

As a cyclist, I had to reframe those thoughts. Instead of telling myself, “slowing down means you are weak,” I began to think, “taking some pace off here for a few miles would really make you stronger when you have to climb that hill.” As usual, it was what I was telling myself that was the problem. The good news was, that was the part I could change.

Life is very much an endurance event. It’s not a short little sprint! A proper balance of work and rest is essential to maintaining not only your emotional health, but your physical well-being too.

As you begin this new season, remember—the slow times are as equally important as the fast ones.

Make this fall be the season that you learn to pace yourself!

Dorian Leigh Quillen, M.Ed., LPC (, is a licensed professional counselor and author specializing in life strategies and resilience. Her book, “Class Act – Eight Young People Who Turned Tragedy into Triumph,” is available at

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