Friday, June 20, 2008

Coming to Terms with My Pace

For the past few years I have had trouble keeping up with others as we walk. Most people simply walk ahead, periodically looking back to make sure I’m still there and waiting for me to catch up at intervals. Only my friend Reya, occasionally my husband, and my dog Jake are willing to walk at my pace, which is definitely slow.

I can’t tell you how many times people have asked in genuine concern, “Did you hurt your leg?” When I reply, “That’s just the way I walk,” they feel embarrassed for asking. But it is true that my tendency to swing my right leg around gives me a strange gait that is markedly worse when I am tired or cold and probably impedes my walking speed.

A doctor recently commented that I totally lack depth perception when I walk, meaning that I have to use my eyes to scan for uneven pavement or anything that might cause me to trip and fall. This is perhaps why using walking sticks on a hike makes it so much easier to find my balance.

I don’t remember always being so slow or unbalanced. It seems to just have crept up on me with additional years. But I’m determined not to let that stop me from walking because I feel so good when my hip joints get lubricated and my legs are stretched out.

Jake and I had a wonderful long walk today to drop off a package and mail some letters. It was almost a relief not to feel behind as we ambled along with him sniffing and decorating every shrub and telephone pole we passed.

So be forewarned if you want to walk and talk with me, you may have to slow down and smell lots of roses. But then, what’s the big rush anyway?


Blogger GEWELS said...

Is Jake still using that leash that he so thoroughly chewed up?
Sorry about that. He is a good one to walk at your pace.
If you want an even slower walk take Simone, she walks at a snail's pace, if you let her. Or, she just sits down and absolutely refuses to budge.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- Jake is using Dylan's old leash, which he hasn't managed to chew up... yet. He is so excited to go for walks!

4:04 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I keep telling myself "What's the rush," and yet I persistently walk fast. I apologize in advance. :)

5:22 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Most people have a natural pace and for most people it's just faster than mine. You city people are such accomplished walkers. Maybe if I lived in the city and had to walk to get to my destinations I would somehow learn to speed up. But for now, I am as slow as a snail.

6:00 PM  
Blogger wordwitch said...

Is your lack of dept perception connected to your eyes or what? I find I have to usually watch where I'm going or I end up tripping all the time. And even before my recently broken leg my balance was not that great....hmmmmm

7:29 PM  
Blogger wordwitch said...

argh...that's depth perception!!

7:30 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

WW -- Apparently most people have an inner sense of where their body parts are in relationship to the ground and their surroundings. I'm sure I used to have it, too, but in the last few years I have noticed a change that causes me to trip more easily if I'm not careful. I'm convinced that I use my eyes to compensate for this lack. Therefore, I would be terrified to go on something like a "night walk" where I couldn't see anything!

7:50 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I am all for walking and talking with you at any pace. When I walk it is like someone just shot off a gun or opened the starting gate. I am like a speed racer going in between and around everyone else. Crazy. It would do me good to slow down a bit. (I also eat fast - I wonder if there is any connection? Do you think you would walk fast if the body allowed?)

9:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gary -- I'm sure I would walk faster if I could. I have long legs and I remember a time when my family had trouble keeping up with me, so obviously something has changed physically. I actually do much better when I am walking on a smooth uncarpeted surface where I am not so concerned about tripping. When I see a person in a wheelchair or with a walker, I am just happy that I can still walk unassisted, albeit slowly!

9:31 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

Today I went on a 4.4 mile hilly walk with 2 women and their 2 big retrievers. They (the women, not the retrievers) made fun of me for walking slowly. But at the end of the walk, I was fresh, and they (the women and the retrievers) were hurting. I'm usually the tortoise rather than the hare. I have biked 125 miles in a day, 2 days in a row. I always get there eventually. And I caught up to the women and the retrievers at the stop lights.

10:51 PM  
Blogger lettuce said...

i come from a family of very fast walkers - everyone comments on it - but lately i've learned to slow down. its good for me.

hope to walk (slowly) with you again before too long!

3:47 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I love a nice stroll. Not every walk needs to be a "power walk." It's fun to walk with you. If you don't believe me, ask Jake.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Barbara, I think we would walk together well. I am a slower walker, compared to alot of people. One of the major differences between ex-husband and current husband is that I was always having to "hurry" with Mr. Ex, but Mr. Current and I seem to walk at the same pace (and he is a hand holder). I have a bizarre knee that gives out unexpectedly if I am walking too quickly... very embarrassing to be sailing along at a rapid clip and then suddenly be sprawled on the pavement. So, I take it steady. When I find myself annoyed at my pace, I hum (or sing) this song: I'm in a hurry to get things done, so I rush and rush until life's no fun. All I really have to do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why... I walk so fast, I drive so fast, I talk so fast...

10:50 AM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

There are only two kinds of walking: successful and unsuccessful. You stick with the successful, what else could anyone want?

12:47 PM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

although I'm naturally a fast walker, I never mind setting my pace to a friend who walks at a different pace!

I look forward to some slow strolls with you!

10:05 AM  

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