In a time of serious challenge—both on a global scale, and during a season of life for me which brings plenty of opportunities for personal growth (i.e. life is tough, and I need to become a stronger, wiser and kinder person to keep going)—sometimes it feels daft to write about running like it means something.
There are so many bigger fish to fry, does it really make sense to spend my mental and physical energy on a pursuit which is basically meaningless? I’m not an elite athlete, and I’ll never be paid to run. (Let’s face it, I’m unlikely even to ever get a free race place, or be asked to review so much as a reflective belt, despite my enthusiasm!) I could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps I should just get my head down and concentrate on the important stuff; leave the sports commentary to the professionals.
But there’s something about pursuing improvement, about pushing myself to hold a standard (like, for example, running every day, or consistently making a certain distance each week, or training for a goal race) that builds me on the inside.
I started out unfit and unexpectant. But after my very first run, something ignited inside me that said “You can do this. You can run this distance again, and next time you won’t have to stop.”
I’m very far from the fastest or furthest runner I know (let alone the hundreds of thousands I don’t know!), but I am making progress. Running is hard, and running consistently, according to a training schedule, and showing up every day, rain or shine, is even harder.
These photos show me utterly defeated, near the end of a 10k mud run, after already surmounting dozens of obstacles. I just didn’t think I had it in me to do this one. You can see the exhaustion on my face. But my team mate Pete helped me, and I got over. It may have only been a 5 foot ramp, but it was the hardest thing I did that day.
My husband bought me an early birthday gift last week—my first ever Garmin sports watch. (When I’ve got to grips with it a little more, I’ll do a review for those of us who get a bit giddy about this kind of stuff—at the moment I’m doing quite a lot of jabbing at it in bewilderment.) It’s a reasonably serious bit of kit, and definitely records more information than I can fully appreciate yet (or ever??), but reviewing the data from my first few days I’ve been reminded of just how far I’ve come in my three and half year journey of running.
This Saturday, I’m running my first half marathon. This race has been a long time coming, and represents a significant amount of internal process in my preparation. Can I do it? Should I spend the necessary training time on this, rather than something non-running-related? Am I strong enough? Do I have the mental toughness? Who am I, to think I can be a runner? (And even—what comes after this race?)
My personal journey is one of faith and spiritual development, which I’m tracking inside my church community, amongst friends and good leaders. Alone, running wouldn’t be enough to take me from strength to strength, through every challenge and stage of life. But running is a key part of how I understand that journey: the building of my core, the decision to show up every day, embracing the training, pursuing goals, recognising that some runs are just bad, celebrating the wins, seeing the bigger picture and not getting disheartened by a rough patch, being determined to get stronger and go further…
So. I think it’s worth talking about running. In a time of serious challenge—both on a global scale, and during a season of life for me which brings plenty of opportunities for personal growth—running hard is more important than ever.
Running streak total today is 315 days, 1219 miles. #runeveryday