I have an on again, off again relationship with running. I’ve always liked it, but it’s also always been hard. I’m not a natural runner, that’s for sure! I usually struggle with it, but want to do it enough to start up a training regimen, then wuss out of it, only to get mad at myself and wish I had stuck with it. My thought process usually goes something like this, to be read with a slight whine to it: “I like to run. But, it’s haaaaard. But, I liiiiiike it. But, it’s not fuuun. But, I WANT TO!”
The last month, I’ve been trying to nudge my brain from “this is no fun” (whine, whine, whine) to “I really like this and I want to do it so please shut up about not wanting to do it”. Even though running is not the easiest thing to do with all the breathing, foot blisters, thigh chafing, and the justkeepgoing, it is the very best thing I can do for myself. My usually chaotic brain goes to white noise while I run. And somewhere in the white noise, my brain begins to work on what needs to be processed. I leave behind the things that are bad and the good floats to the surface. I usually come home happy with a quiet brain. I have tried numerous other activities, but running is the only thing that calms my brain and I desperately need that!
Last week, I ran my first 5k race. Which turned out to NOT be my first 5k race, but was instead my first 2.83 mile race. Someone goofed on the route and so I guess I will get two first 5k races. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do, but I knew I wanted to race more than a hot fudge sundae. I did pretty good, which kind of surprised me since I’m not known for my athleticism. Let me put it like this, if I was a Spice Girl, I would not be Sporty Spice. Maybe Brisk Walk Spice. Anyway, I did well and I accomplished my goals of not being last, running the whole way, and coming in under 40 minutes.
The whole process of running a race was completely foreign, since I wussed out of junior high track, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the race itself. Some people LOVE, LOVE, LOVE racing and do mentally questionable things like run through Death Valley in July. I was hoping for a floaty sensation and maybe a small angelic choir as I lined up for the starting gun, which actually turned out to be a really awkward count back from five, but it just felt normal. As I started off, being sure to hit the blue mat with the foot carrying my timing chip, I didn’t have one of those inspirational moments where Chariots of Fire played as I ran in slow motion, wind in my gorgeous wavy blond hair. I just ran. And it didn’t suck. I liked it. I want do it again.
With my ability to really jack up a plan, wanting to do it again makes me nervous.
I’m the kind of person that starts a program with fanfare and strains of the Hallelujah Chorus in the background. I make my plan, mark off on the calendar when I should be able to run to Mars and back, buy a new gadget or two, and boast to myself about how awesome I am. I start my plan with determination and the vision of Olympic gold medals and crowds cheering me on. Then, life gets in the way, I get sick, I have a busy week, my stabbing pain flares up, giant whales fall from the sky… Suddenly, I’m derailed and angry that once again I’ve failed to be the Best Possible ME! I end up on the couch, watching another Law and Order, consuming Coke and Doritos and being miserable.
I wanted to start this paragraph with “This time, however…” but to be honest, this time didn’t start with a “this time”. About a month ago, much like Forest Gump, I just started running. I ran because I had too much energy, because I was mad and needed to work off the cranky, because it was beautiful outside and I needed to be OUT, I ran because my body hurt and I hoped to outrun the pain. Last week, I went for a run and I realized I really needed new running shoes. So, I got my first gadget, but it wasn’t because I wanted to be cool, I actually needed my new purple Nikes. (Yes, the color did sway my vote, but they really were the best ones, promise!)
For the first time, I have no goal. I have no burning desire to run to Mars and back. I don’t care if I do a marathon. I just want to run and get better at it, faster, less awkward, run up a hill without gasping for air. I want to understand what Paul talks about in Hebrews when he says, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that does so easily beset us, and let us run the race that is set before us”. I know that I have much to lay aside for that heavenly race and I’m hoping that my earthly running will guide me in that other race.
I’m going to run five miles tomorrow. I’m nervous, since besides my un-5k, it’s my first “plan”. I’m already yelling at my brain to shut up about the 6 and 7 miles I could possibly do next week and I’ll be fantastic and gazelle-like and (@!#$%&)$@#*$)%*!@#$%()*#)@%*… You see why I resist the plan!
An added bonus to running is I almost always come home with something to write about and that’s worth running for!
(Between writing and posting, I DID make it through my five miles, which is my longest distance to date and accomplished my first hill training run. Which sucked beyond belief, but left me feeling good and triumphant and not dead.)