What is your personal best?

Your personal best is a term that we usually hear applied to runners and athletes. Generally, it means the best score or time that you achieved at some athletic event or competition. I have a personal best for a ten k run that I did several years ago. I have never exceeded this time. I think when I was about 32 or 33. I was living in a small town in Wisconsin and married to my first wife Julia. She used to go to watch me in my events. As I have grown older, the details have receded from my grasp. However, I still remember the time: 38:48. It seems etched in my mind despite the other details about the race which grow further and further away. I don’t even remember where I placed in the standings. I have now been running for over 35 years but seldom do any races or events.

Surprisingly, I feel better and better as I continue my daily runs. I no longer care about “beating” my personal best. I am more satisfied to simply go out, run, and soak up the wonderful feelings I get from a more leisurely pace. I take the time to see the flowers and observe the animals, birds or whatever crosses my path. I focus more on the quality of my runs and less on how fast or how far I am going. Running does not seem like a chore or a task, but it is something I look forward to doing. If I were obsessed with beating my personal best or cranking out miles, I don’t think I would enjoy it as much or have been running as long as I have.

This raises a very interesting question. We live in a time of intense global competition, where our very lifestyles depend on increasing our productivity almost daily. Our mantra is: “Better, faster, cheaper” and our standard of living depends on accomplishing this mantra. The question then is: “Do we always have to be doing something better and better?” Where does our quality of life fit in? Is more or faster necessarily better? When is slower better? During my race track training with Keith Code from California Superbike School, Keith always told us that “you have to learn how to go slow before you can go fast.”

How can you improve your quality of life today by slowing something down or by taking it easier? Can you let go of some personal best that you have been obsessed with? How much longer will you live if you slow down some today?

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