Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lessons from Running

So, I've started running.

For those around me, namely my dear friend Suzanne who is coaching me through the process, it's not a pretty sight. I'm not a naturally athletic person at all. The only team sport I ever played was softball in fifth grade (our team's name: The North Atlantic Termites). I breathe through my mouth and get red, sweaty, frizzy-haired and wild-eyed very quickly. My grandfather back in the day was known as "the guy who never missed a day of running for 20 years straight." I apparently inherited few of his genes.

However, about a month ago I decided I needed to get into, if not shape, at least better shape. I just love food too much to not exercise and burn some of it off. Thankfully, we've had some incredibly gorgeous weather around here for February and March, which has made it a lot easier to get motivated. Normally the theme of the day this time of year would be sleet and mud, but instead people have been wearing shorts and the daffodils have been in bloom for a couple of weeks. So Suzanne, who lives in town, and I have headed out to the high school track several times a week, and I have learned quickly what I really already knew:

Running is really, really hard.

Well, not the running part. I suppose it would be the running for any sort of significant distance part. I get stitches in my side. I get itchy. I run out of breath quickly.

Thankfully, I learned right away that you don't start running just running. You walk and then you run a little and then walk some more and then run some more. Every time you try to walk a little less and run a little more. Slowly, your endurance builds.

This morning I decided to go out running for the first time on my own. The fact that I woke up and was actually inspired to do this is a miracle in itself. The fact that I actually did it and enjoyed myself is as well.

As I ran, I couldn't help but thinking that this running thing illustrates a lot about our lives in general. This analogy is certainly nothing new, but I guess in some ways it's new to me. As my sneakers pounded on the pavement the verse kept running through my head: "...Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

Running is about endurance. Life is about endurance. But how do we endure to accomplish the purpose God has for each of us? Running with the sunrise, I saw that:

1. We have to take it one step at a time, while periodically keeping our "eyes on the prize."
If you're only looking at your destination, you'll be discouraged at how far you have to go. So we need to primarily set our sights on the tasks in front of us (I guess with running, this would be the next landmark rather than the finish line). Our race is really a compilation of many small milestones. However, if we only keep our eyes on our "feet," or present situation, we'll lose our inspiration. We have to glance up every once in awhile and remember what we're aiming for.

2. Sometimes you don't realize how far you've come until you turn around and look back.
I still can't run very far AT ALL. I'll be happy when I can run even a mile straight! This is a bit disheartening, although I've only been running for a couple of weeks. However, today I turned around after I'd ran and couldn't even see the place where I'd started from. The journey looked so much longer and felt so much grander after I'd accomplished it. How often in life do we go through something, and only after we've come out on the other side are we in awe that we were able to do it?

3. You have to have the proper tools.
Everyone talks about having the right running shoes, and I know now that they're right. My cheap sneakers are just not cutting it (thankfully new running shoes from eBay or on their way!). I've got blisters. My feet are taking a pounding. They will still take a pounding once I get the new shoes, but it will provide some relief. I also needed some workout clothes (running with sweatpants that are literally FALLING DOWN is just not the way to go). These things seem so simple yet can make a big difference. And then there's just the fact of knowing the right way to run. You can have the best intentions and start gung-ho only to fail miserably because you didn't, say, stretch enough first or pace yourself, or you tried to do too much too soon.

4. The journey is a lot easier when you're not on your own.
You know, I consider myself an introvert (although not an extreme one), yet even I get bored exercising alone. I tend to count my steps (Ethan would appreciate this) for lack of anything better to do. But when I have someone along, the time passes much more quickly. I'm not just looking at the next marker and wondering how long it will take me to get there. I've realized more and more lately that we can't do life alone. I don't just mean with or without a spouse or kids. I'm saying we need a depth of relationship; all kinds of relationship. We need people we're mentoring and people we're learning from. We need people at the same life stage we can bounce thoughts and ideas off of. We need friends who share our beliefs and who can encourage us. We can't just live in the bubble of home, as is so easy to do, particularly if you are an at-home mom. Even those of us who are quieter and more reserved were meant to share our lives on different levels with different types of people.

I hurt all over.

Back out tomorrow at 6 a.m.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go girl!

i don't run, but i spin and i often draw encouragement for the "ride of life" when i'm spinning.

to your last point, may your life be filled with friends who sharpen you and encourage you on the journey. thank you for the way you've encouraged me.