I once met a friend at a park for a lesson on how to get into cycling as a way of keeping healthy. It was my one and only lesson (because exercise is a synonym for pain in my dictionary), but I learned something important that I have totally failed to apply during the many years since. Seeing my lack of experience right off, he gave me a piece of advice:
“Find your cadence.”
He went on to explain that I was jerking the pedals in a very inconsistent pattern. They key to burning calories efficiently and without injury is having a smooth, consistent motion at a relatively swift pace (more than 50-60 revolutions per minute).
Honestly, I haven’t thought about his advice much since then. I rarely get on a bike. (Who has the time?) But I thought about it this morning as I was walking back from taking the kids to school.
My life is often an off-balance, inconsistent, jerking-the-pedals kind of mess. I’ve always prided myself in being a spontaneous, hands-off-the-handlebars kind of person (INFP for those of you who are familiar with Myers-Briggs). I hate to be scheduled; I hate routine; I like to stay up to all hours of the night…I just love the enormous possibility of a day free from obligations.
But as the years have gone by (I’m 39), living la vida loca is starting to take its toll in repetitive stress injuries. My body now pays triple what it used to cost me to stay up past midnight. I never feel like exercising. I’m always tired. I’m hopelessly behind on my to-do list, and my spiritual disciplines are somewhat undisciplined.
I find that I’m always trying to play catch-up….in my finances, in my relationships, in my work, in my spiritual life…so I take the turns of life at breakneck speeds and load my bicycle down with all kinds of good intentions. Then every once in a while, I crash with an illness that lays me out until my body can repair the damage I’ve done. This is no way for a mature, father of three and husband of one to live.
So, what occurred to me as I walked home this morning is that I need to find my cadence. In other words, I need to find the rhythm and the pace that I can sustain long-term, and I need to stick to it. I’ve been making half-hearted efforts at this for years, but I’ve lacked the discipline to keep it up and I’m pretty sure that Satan has been doing his best to interrupt my cadence whenever possible by throwing hazards on the road right before I get there.
The key to this working, I’ve realized, is that I need to select a lower gear. I’m wearing myself out trying to pedal at top speed in a gear that’s too hard for me. I need to stop trying to do so much that I’m always behind. I need to forgive myself for what I didn’t accomplish yesterday. I need to stop trying to catch up and just start fresh wherever I’m at. Most of all, I need to listen to the messages my body is sending me and get more sleep so that I’ll have the energy to handle whatever challenges the day brings. Rhythm and rest.
This is more journal than blog. My apologies. Hope that maybe it helps you find your own cadence.