Mama said you gotta put the past behind you before you can move on, and I think that’s what my runnin’ was all about… I just felt like runnin’.
The other night I watched Forrest Gump, one of my favorite movies, for the umpteenth time. I always love those scenes where Forrest decides to run thousands of miles after his mama died. There’s something so earnest and humble about just setting feelings into productive motion.
I ran cross country and track in middle and high school and I absolutely loved it. I was by no means talented, but I loved being part of the team: the spaghetti dinners, being pushed by my coaches and writing my name and jersey number in fabric paint on green and gold ribbons to tie in my hair for race days.
I got lazy in college and then, when one of my best friends (the one who literally pushed me into the Monday Night Ski Hill 5ks every summer) was killed our senior year, I started running again. At that point, I was running out of grief and frustration that someone that beautiful and wonderful could be taken away from me so quickly. I’m not sure why, but the running consoled me. It gave me a rhythm and meaning.
I’ve recently started running yet again, not because I particularly felt like it, but logic told me that running is physically good for me, keeps me busy and encourages me to set goals and meet them. I’ve been eating (and plan to continue to eat) a LOT of Chik-fil-A so the added weight was added motivation for me to get up and start going again. Above all, I was inspired by a woman I read about in the Washington Post who runs marathons in memory of her husband who was killed in Iraq.
Needless to say, the running has had so many unforeseen benefits!! My body feels fit, my mental state has vastly improved and I have tangible goals I’m working towards (including but not limited to beating my husband at a 5k when he gets home).
Our bodies are gifts from God, temples of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to take care of them!! Countless studies have shown that people who run, especially at a young age, live longer and are generally healthier and happier than the rest of the population. Ladies, a doctor recently told me that exercising intensely before and then moderately during pregnancies make the entire pregnancy easier! It also makes losing the weight afterwards more manageable.
For those just starting out, I find that if you’re not patient with yourself and set reasonable goals, you won’t follow through on it for the long term. I limit myself to a half hour work out each day, because any longer I’ll get tired and won’t want to do it the next day. I take Sundays off and cross train (swimming or biking) one of the days. Remember, we all have our own style and different things work for different people. I was discouraged running with John because there are no sidewalks around here and I didn’t have fixed goals, so treadmills tend to work better for me. It really doesn’t matter how or when you choose to start running, it’s free, fun and even bi-partisan… so what’s your excuse??
Finally, I’ll leave you with some work out prayers that motivate me in both my physical and spiritual life.
Run by my side, Lord, live in my heartbeat. Give strength to my steps. As the cold surrounds me, as the wind pushes me, I know you surround me. As the sun warms me, as the rain cleanses me, I know that you are touching me, challenging me, loving me. And so I give you this run. Thank you for matching my every stride.
Lord, Watch over me today as I run. This is the day and this is the time for the race. Watch over my body. Keep it free from injury. Watch over my mind. May I listen to the signals from within as I enjoy the scenes from without. Watch over my spirit. Watch over my competitors. Remind us that we all are struggling equally. Lord, Let me win. Not by coming in ahead of my friends, but by beating myself. Let it be an inner win. A battle won over me. And may I say at the end, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”
Accept our gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this contest and in the larger race of life. We accept with thankfulness the wholeness and well being which running contributes to our living. As running brings pleasure to our lives so may our efforts on this day bring pleasure to you, our Creator. We give thanks for physical bodies wonderfully made. Help us to exercise good stewardship of the health, energy, and clarity of mind provided for our use. Bless our efforts in training to develop these gifts to their full potential. Give us the strength to endure and the passion to persevere. Protect us from injury and illness. May we possess courage and character in adequate supply to meet the challenge before us. Grant each of us the integrity to do our best in the quest to finish well. We can do no more and desire no less. Thank you for the sense of community created by our common commitment to run. As we seek to realize personal goals help us to also celebrate the accomplishments of others. Grant that we may find joy not only in competition but also in the privilege of running together.