I may not look like your typical runner, but it is something that I have grown to love. I appreciate the effort that my body has to give in order to carry myself through every step. The euphoric feeling that comes after a long run is like no other. Running is not only good for my physical body but also my mind. It has caused me to learn so many lessons about myself and some valuable truths.
I did not start off loving to run. In fact, I have a rather comical story about how much I disliked it! My senior year of high school the girls cross country team desperately needed one more girl to qualify as a “team”. I had been a golfer, however, I had a cast on my arm that prevented me from golfing. The cross country coach knew this and immediately started contacting me. So I became the fifth member of our high school team. I wish I could say that this is when I fell in love with running… it is not! During our practices, I would hide with one of the other girls in the elementary play ground. Honestly, I am not sure how I finished a single race!
My love for running started about 7 years ago. That first run is still very fresh in my mind. I was living in Spokane and was under an immense amount of stress and pressure. I had heard people talk about how big of a stress reliever running was, so I figured “why not”. Nothing else had worked, and I was still too stubborn to actually seek help from a professional. I had these new fluorescent orange tennis shoes and a hot pink breast cancer awareness sweatshirt on. I made it only about 3 minutes before I had to start walking. It was cold but I forced myself to stay outside until I had put in 20 mins of work. After that first run, I never stopped. I have been running consistently ever since.
Here are a few lessons that I have learned while hitting the pavement:
- The struggle and pain of pushing your body will take your mind off of what is really going on. As I had mentioned previously, I had started running because I was going through one of the toughest situations of my life. I needed my mind to go numb. To forget about what my current reality was. Is this a good long term solution? Absolutely not, but it worked while I was gathering the strength that I needed.
- It is the perfect time to talk to God. When I run, I am alone. There is nobody else talking into my ear. The craziness of everyday life is gone. I am quiet. God was always there patiently waiting for me. Sometimes, He was just there to listen to my heart. Others, He was speaking to me. Giving me encouragements. Filling my thoughts with HIS thoughts. During my runs, I truly found myself.
- Dreams can become reality. I am a dreamer! I can see, feel, and almost grasp what my mind envisions. However, I tend to believe that I don’t deserve my dreams or that they are unobtainable. For me, dreaming is a double edged sword. This topic deserves it’s own post, so I will not elaborate on this now. Some of my greatest dreams and desires have come to me while running. I am very happy to say, that I have also worked through some of my fantasy/catastrophe thinking during my runs. It has been during these times, that I have truly embraced my abilities and fueled my fire to succeed. It is were I laid the foundation for some of my dreams to actually come true.
- You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for! It is so easy to sit on your couch and think “I could never do this”, “I am not strong enough”, or “I’m too out of shape”. God gave you those legs and feet to be able to move your body! He made you strong enough to do anything you put your mind to. Does it take work? Yes, one hundred percent! However, you are more than capable to put in that effort. It is always your mind that will give up before your body does. Keep pushing on! Conquer those demons in your head that say you can’t do it!
These lessons have all been great, but I have noticed myself doing something that I am so embarrassed about. I actually started to do it again at the beginning of this post. I did not change the entry just so you can see what I am talking about. When someone asks me about my running, I almost always start the conversation off putting myself down. I will say; “I’m not fast”, “I am a terrible runner, but I do it”, “I know, I don’t look like a runner”, or “I don’t REALLY consider myself a runner”. It is incredibly demeaning and undermines all of the accomplishments that I have made. Friends, let me tell you something, if you run… YOU are a runner! We must stop degrading ourselves because we do not fit that standard mold. No, I am not super thin. I do not have long legs. I am not tall. What I am is a 5’2″ and incredibly strong runner. These short legs have carried me through 5 half marathons and more 5K’s and 10K’s than I can count.
In May, this body carried me 13.1 miles through the pouring rain. During that race, I ran faster than I ever thought was possible for me. I was so overwhelmed with my accomplishment that I literally crossed the finish line with tears streaming down my face. I had made one of my dreams come true. That race was a huge milestone. I discovered what I was really capable of. In a way, it changed my entire mindset. There was a definite, and obvious, shift in my demeanor. It gave me the ability to allow myself to dream again.
Running may not be your thing, but I am sure there is something that you are doing to find your quiet time and escape your thoughts. Whatever that may be, keep doing it! Despite what some people may say, YOU are rocking it! I am cheering you on.