4 Ways to Practice Pacing for More Energy and Better Results

Walking all day with a 15-pound backpack, 15 miles finished. According to the directions, only a mile to go. I was exhausted. It began to rain. I had a decision to make, do I push through the last mile, maybe 30 minutes more walking and finish for the day, or do I stop and get out of the rain and continue later?

I decided to push through. This was a mistake.

Lesson learned: practicing pacing the following day.

It was the first day of 5 days of walking the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St James, in northern Spain. I wanted to get to the stop for the night and shower and rest – most of all, to stop walking.

The rain fell harder. The sky rumbled with thunder and lit up with lightening. I was so tired, yet the shelter must be just around the corner. I continued.

The mile turned into 4 and 30 minutes turned into 2 1/2 hours. An hour after I arrived the rain stopped.

Over the next 3 hours the rest of our group straggled in. The last people to arrive stopped when it began to rain. They drank coffee and played cards until the rain stopped. They arrived at the shelter dry, happy and with plenty of energy.

I was exhausted and discouraged with wet gear. The others were in much better condition than I was for the four additional days of walking ahead of us.

Pushing through was a mistake. And counterproductive.

As I reflected on this day, I realized that I often push through large goals. While this is a positive trait at times, I do it too much and it takes a toll on me and my work.

Projects often take longer than anticipated. My timing goals are unrealistic, but rather than change the timing I push through. Yet, tomorrow brings equally large projects with unrealistic timing goals.

What I need is pacing.

4 Ways to Pace Yourself for More Energy and Better Results

After my disastrous first day walking in the rain, I determined to practice better pacing. We walked even further the following day. Here’s what I did differently:

  1. I reset my mental goal. When the rain began on the first day my goal was simply to finish. The following day I reset my goal to enjoy the journey. I wanted to be more alert as I walked. More reflective. To have more fun. The journey became part of my destination.
  2. I set a more realistic timing goal. I determined not to be the fastest to the night’s stop, but to arrive mid-afternoon. This allowed me a couple more hours to complete the day’s journey.
  3. I walked with others. I joined others from our group. We chatted all day long as we covered 22 miles. At times, we walked more slowly than I preferred, but the fellowship of these friends made the difficult task easier. And I got much more out of it because of their companionship.
  4. I took more frequent breaks. The day in the rain, I walked 7 hours only stopping twice, both quick stops. The following day we stopped 4, perhaps 5 times. Each time was a relaxing break where we had a drink and something to eat. I took my shoes off and sunned my feet. These breaks increased the total time for the day, but the journey was much more enjoyable and reflective because of them.

Practicing pacing made a big difference to my day. I arrived at the stop for the night tired, but happy and actually enjoyed the day in the beautiful countryside of Northern Spain.

I bring this lesson back home with me and am already applying it to my work. Which is why this article was completed this week instead of last week. : -)

Question: How do you practice (or want to practice) pacing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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