For the first year that I ran, I rarely thought about pace. Survival was my first concern, then speed–breaking the 10-minute-mile barrier. But I didn’t know how to think about controlling the movement of my feet to attain that goal.

Then, last week, a running partner told me something that makes so much sense it’s embarrassing that it hadn’t occurred to me before. To go slower, keep your feet under your body. To go faster, let your feet extend beyond your body. Think about and feel where your feet are in relation to your core and consciously make adjustments from there.

The result, of course, is smaller or wider steps, which means more or less ground covered, which means a faster pace–without killing yourself by making your legs actually move faster. They just move a little further with each step.

The impact of such a modest adjustment, and my consciousness of it, started be thinking about similar modifications I could make to cover more ground in my life. Rather than straining to run faster, I could just be more mindful of what is happening right under my feet. Where do I stand? How does it feel? Is it time to stretch, or time to tread lightly?