Running the Race
I wrote this to a friend to encourage her as she began running. It's my experience and philosophy when it comes to running.
Thanks for reading.
I ran track in high school, college (the first one) and a few years after that. I've always been a sprinter. I ran the 100, 200 and 400 meter dash. I never had the patience to run laps 4 or 5 times around the track. Somewhere around 2001 I stopped running. Life happened and I could never get out to run on a consistent basis.
Over the years I waited tables. Not wearing the proper shoes at work and continually being on my feet did damage to my legs. Every time I attempted to run I would be in excruciating pain for the next week. Attending WVU and running up hillsides to get to class helped but not much.
I moved back to my hometown in Ohio last July. I was staying with some friends until I found my own place. My friends are unhealthy eaters and I had junk food at my leisure within arms reach 24/7. By October I was at 24% body fat and I felt awful. For someone with my frame having that much body fat is not good. I needed to run.
I was frustrated because my legs were shot. I didn't think I could ever run again. I couldn't even do 5 minutes on a treadmill. Then I remembered why I run in the first place. I have always believed that there is a spiritual connection for me when it comes to running. When Paul talks about running the race, I can see the parallels between our walk with Christ and real running. Sometimes we fall down. Sometimes we pull a muscle or break a bone. Sometimes we're lazy and we don't feel like running. Sometimes it rains and we can't get outside to run.
I took stock on my life and my health. They were not in sync. My spirit was doing better than my health but I wanted my physical health to be better also. So, just like a daily walk with Christ, I started a daily walk on the treadmill. It started with a slow walking pace with no incline. Then I added a 2 percent incline. Then a 5 percent incline. I kept adding the incline so it would work my calves and shins. My shins gave me the most trouble. By October I was able to complete a 20 minute brisk walk at 10 percent incline. Once I was able to do that I felt it was time to push it.
I ran my first mile on a treadmill in October of last year. It took me 14 minutes. There was no pain or discomfort. I started running more miles and bringing my time down. By January I was running a mile in under 7 minutes. No pain! I had also lost 20 pounds in the process.
Here is where it got really difficult for me. This spring I developed shin splints. These suckers are so painful, I wish I could cut my legs off because it would feel better. I had never had shin splints this bad before. My calves had become so strong that my shin muscles were ripping off the bone because of the strain. There were times I had trouble walking.
Again, I viewed my athletic experience from Paul's perspective. I had worked my way back to peak physical shape. I have the potential to run like the wind. Yet, I had to deal with the pain and suffering of shin splints.
The only way to get rid of the pain of shin splints is to work through it. You have to push through the pain, take good care of yourself and pray for the day that you can run without pain. Isn't that like life? Isn't that like our walk with Christ? Sometimes we have to work through the pain.
I hated having shin splints but I am thankful for the ordeal. It reminded me that just because I'm healthy doesn't mean I won't suffer or become frustrated because it's difficult to do something I love. It reminded me that it was only a few months ago that I couldn't even walk on a treadmill without difficulty.
I believe that running teaches us a lot about ourselves. Running makes us question why we do it and what our goal is. For some of us it's to win the prize. For others it's just the satisfaction of completing something. For me, it puts into perspective who I am. Running is a physical extension of my spiritual self. If I can work out for an hour at the track, I can spend an hour reading scripture.
I'm glad you're running. I think you will find a strength within you that you never knew existed.
Continue to run the race....