The word “pace” can have different connotations.
One concept of pace can be seen in quadrupeds. Animals pace by moving the legs on one side of the body forward at the same time. This is contrasted with the trot, which involves diagonally opposite legs moving together. The pace is less natural than the trot, as evidenced by the harnesses worn by pacers in harness racing.
People refer to “pace of life.” Life moves a lot faster in some areas than others. For example, people in New York City often don’t feel they have time to stop and chat with neighbors on the sidewalk, while folks in small midwestern towns may block intersections as the lean out their truck windows to catch up on the latest news.
One variation on pace is frequently spoken of in running. Runners don’t usually think in terms of miles per hour. They look at minutes per mile, instead, and refer to that as their pace. It is not uncommon for runners to average 8 to 10 minute miles.
I occasionally worry about my pace. My average pace is closer to 16 minutes per mile. You can find me running down a road or trail, with a worried look on my face, wondering why I can’t seem to “improve” my pace. Then you’ll see me slide to a stop as I spot something really interesting to look at.
I pondered my pace on Sunday morning’s run. It would be really nice to become fast enough to have, say, an average pace of 12 minutes per mile. To do that, I would have to focus on improving my stride, increasing my endurance, and maintaining that faster pace. I have even learned how to do those things.
But do I want to? Do I want to run faster and not surprise Scott with a handful of fresh wild strawberries to go with breakfast? Would I truly want to ignore Sally’s beautiful points on Ruffed Grouse and American Woodcock when she runs with me? Is running faster more important to me than stopping to chat with my neighbors when they stop to see how I am doing?
I think I’ll keep running the way that I have been. Life is too short not to stop and smell the roses.