My Love/Hate Relationship With Running
So most of you know that I was an athlete back in the day. But what most assume about athletes like myself, is that running comes easy and enjoyable to us. Let me take a moment to break this assumption. I, myself, loath running, I might even go as far as using the word hate. Well, not ALL running, I suppose, but the kind of running that consist of mileage. Give me a basketball and a court and I'll run till I drop, and LOVE every minute of the pain, but just put me out on the road, just me, my shoes and the pavement....cant stand it. In high school, during tack practice, if the coach said to run 2 miles I would beg him to let me sprint 32 100's instead. He would look at me like I was crazy and make me run the two miles but in my mind it was worth the ask! I told this same coach when I was a Sophomore in High School that I wanted to metal in EVERY event that our district offered for Track and Field by the time I graduated, I was a little competitive (and a little ADD I might add, I got bored practicing the same events). This goal came with one stipulation, every event UNDER 800 meters! I remember the first meet I ran the 1600 mt relay (4 girls all running 1/4 mile, once around the track). At this point I had never competed in anything longer than a 200mt sprint. I nervously looked at my coach on the bus ride and asked, "Coach, how do you run a 400? Whats the strategy? " thinking he would give me advice like sprint the straights, stride the curves and he looked at me with a grin and said, "Gaddis, you get the baton, run as fast as you can and take two left turns." Y'all I almost died. I am a competitor, I hate loosing and I didn't have the 1600mt relay metal. So thats what I did, ran as fast as I could and took two left turns....and you know what?? I made it, we metaled AND I didn't die! I learned a big lesson that day. A lesson I have to re learn two or three times a year it seems. My mental/emotional state severely affects my physical state and vice versa.
I know, I know, seems simple really, but when applied to life as a Follower of Christ, it gets a little more intense. After college, sports for me were a past time. No longer an identity or something someone forced on me, but more something I could choose to do. I soon found out my body functioned at an overall higher level, mentally and spiritually, when exercise was in its place.
As we are a very busy family and travel alot it didnt take me long to realize that running is really the only "exercise" that can go everywhere with you. You dont need a machine, you dont need weights or equipment, just some shoes and a path. GREAT. Here I was again, facing my hatred toward running. I began to ask the Lord why it was that I was a "sprinter" and not a "long distance runner" and why I was made how I was and why it was so hard for me to run for long periods of time. And you know what He revealed to me...I REALLY hated running because it revealed the state of my heart. It humiliated me. It humbles me by revealing my ugly pride. It reveals what I really think about and care about, that I am easily swayed by my flesh, I don't finish things well, I am self centered and self loathing, the list can go on. I found that as I run, my mind is my biggest enemy. As is in life.
This is why I now LOVE running. It reveals the true state of my heart. When I have to do something I dont what to do, what is my response? Thankfulness that I have legs and a working heart? or complaint that I cant just snap my fingers and be in shape. I really do LOVE running now. In a strange sorta way. It has a way of bring out sin I seem to be oblivious to otherwise. I generally like to cross train, I love to swim and bike. BUT about two or three times a year I set a goal to reach at distance running (my distance running and yours are probably way different, remember I though 1/4 mile was far!). I do this to check my heart. To see if there what evil ways are in me. To " beat my body to ready my speed," to "discipline the body in Godliness."
Something I love doing while I run is to use it as a time of prayer for others. This gets my thoughts off of myself and on to GOD and others. I like to make a playlist for my iPod that will point my heart and mind to GOD and at the same time bring to mind certain friends and family that I particularly want to pray for. About 4 years ago a friend of our started an organization call I Run For Orphans. Immediately this resonated with me. So while I train for my distance goals, I think of and pray for the Orphans in Sudan. I pray for them as I run, some by name, that the Lord would do great things in them and through them in their country.
This coming Memorial Day weekend, Vernon, Justin, Allison and I will be running in a 5K to raise money for the starting cost of the 4th His Voice Orphanage in Sudan. I am so excited about this run. I love the idea of raising support for the children! And as I have trained, the Lord has been gracious to me, to reveal yet again, the depths of my sin and refined my heart again.
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