“Running, one might say, is basically an absurd pastime upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning in the type of running you need to do … chances are you’ll be able to find meaning in that other absurd pastime – LIFE. ”Bill Bowerman as quoted in the 1998 movie, “Without Limits”
Four lessons from my morning run
I came upon the above quote on a friend’s profile some years ago and it really resonated with me, mainly because I’ve often been struck by how much physical exercise mirrors the labor of our souls! This one then is inspired by my somewhat intermittent morning jogs : ) Here goes :
Lesson 1: We’ve not failed or given up. We simply stop and start and stop and start over and over again!
What discourages us most in our attempts to get physically fit is not too different from what dampens our efforts at ‘soul-fitness’ – we just get too darn tired of failing! Ground gained by an early spurt of success is gradually lost and a bit like that ol’ snake ‘n’ ladders game we find ourselves bitten back to home-base. After a few rounds of this we think there’s no real point in trying and so determine instead to live with our out- of- shape souls (and bodies).
Would you consider another way to look at this? If you were to ask me when I first began exercising, I’d tell you that it was at age sixteen.
Does that mean that I’ve worked out every single day of my life from then until now?!! No way!! ( hear me holler that out). I’ve had some breaks in between, breaks ranging from weeks to months ..even years. …but I’ve always resumed. When I stop, I don’t consider myself to have regressed to the starting point. Rather, I see it as a break in a journey begun years ago. The gaps in soul/physical disciplines become permanent halts only if we believe the lie the serpent hisses at us, “you’re back at square one!” It doesn’t matter how many times we stop or how long we stop for. Benefits gained from the road already traveled don’t get negated just because temptation or laziness or whatever else got the better of us. What matters only is that we pull out those dusty sneakers and start running again….and again..and again.
Lesson 2 : Don’t let the incline cheat you of your prize.
The road that I run on is undulating with several ups and downs. How my body hates the climb! As soon as the incline looms into view, my body plunges into panic mode. My breath gets harder and my steps, shorter. Oftentimes I’ve stopped my run before hitting the incline or while still on it, but lately I’ve learned to negotiate it better. Here’s how:
I give myself a little pep-talk well before the incline. I tell myself that for just a little while it’s going to be tough, but that ‘tough’ won’t last forever; that soon enough the road will level out and I’ll find my breath and rhythm again. Simply put, our bodies talk. But we cannot allow it to be a one-sided conversation. The half-truths it speaks (“this is too painful to handle” etc) must be countered by what our minds know to be the whole truth….especially when life inclines. ( Bear in mind here that it’s unrealistic to expect the new path that’s opened up before you to be level-ground all the way to the end)
The other thing I’ve learned is to give my body permission to slow down, rather than stop when the run gets too painful. Pace is everything!
And finally I imagine the sweet satisfaction I will feel at the end of my run if I don’t quit and keep going. Indeed, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.: (Hebrews 12:11, the Bible)
I want the harvest!
Lesson 3: Don’t get put out by those out-running you!
Every once in a while someone younger, stronger and with a more elegant stride will ‘glide’ right past me. At first it made me instinctively quicken my own pace, but now I’ve learned to not let it bother me. I’m competing against myself- nobody else.
Lesson 4: A bad run is better than no run at all!
The running app I use ends with my ‘coach’ saying something like this –
“there’s no particular reason why some runs feel better than others. Remember a bad run is better than no run at all”. How true to exercise and to life! Perfectionism has no place in either! What matters is that we’ve left our old destinations and are journeying towards the new!