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Slowing Down in Order to Keep Going

Take it from someone who has hiked really, really, long trails relatively “fast”… when you are on an arduous journey that lasts for days, or weeks, or months at a time, you are never really going fast. The key to endurance is to bend not break, so if you feel like you’re going to break then SLOW DOWN! Get some more rest, eat some healthy food, give yourself some grace, and pace yourself.

My max speed on the A.T. was 4 miles per hour and I think I hit it twice. Once in NY – for like an hour. And on the last day when I could finally smell the barn… and the shower… and the bed. Contrary to what most folks think, I never ran… except for the last day (because of the shower… and the bed). Most of the time my record hike was an ugly, painful, hobble. I used hiking poles as crutches, I gobbled down Ibuprofen, I hurt, I cried, I wanted to quit, and I ate too much junk food. And here I am 10 years later trying to run two small businesses (Blue Ridge Hiking Company and JPD LLC), and trying to help two small children with virtual school, and feeling the exact same way I did when I was putting in 47-mile days!

So I am writing this to remind myself that it is okay to slow down, it is okay to produce less, and not go as far as you want on a daily basis. Because sometimes doing less is the only way to keep going long-term.

I’m also sharing this because it’s been a really tough winter – for everyone. (Is January ever going to end?) I think most of America is struggling with mild to moderate depression. And, while I am optimistic that things are going to get better this spring, please remember that in times like these – trail records and pandemics – it’s normal to fall short and feel overwhelmed. We might ugly crawl our way out of this thing, but if you keep going and take it one slow… heavy… step… at a time, we will get there!