Thursday, September 10, 2009

Life Lessons from the Road

So I've been a little stale here. I've been lacking inspiration for writing. All day long I think of things to post and then time or lack of energy gets the best of me.

But today's hill workout reminded me of a few truths I've learned since I became a runner 8 years ago. I always wanted to be a runner. It sounded very sexy. I had played sports all my life and even worked at a sports camp during my summers in college and afterwards. But running was my nemesis. Every time I'd head out for a run, I'd end up with side stitches, sometimes even puking on the side of the road. I felt insecure and never wanted to run with others because I knew they'd smoke me. I was sure that running and I, much like Bella and Jacob, were simply not meant to be.

One hot July afternoon at the aforementioned sports camp, I was attempting a run (less than 3 miles) and was running up a long hill, paved with gravel, and a bible verse came shuttling into my brain: but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31)

See, I was so intent on becoming a runner that I had been praying, asking God, "please make me a runner!" When this verse came into my mind, and I am not exaggerating here, I looked up and there in the sky were not one, or two, but three eagles flying high above me. I'm not pulling your leg - it almost knocked the wind out of me. I slowed down and felt tears popping out of my eyes.

And because I slowed down, I made it up that hill. And it was suddenly apparent to me - I had to slow down. I had to ask for help and I had to focus on something else beside the pain of running.

8 years later and I've run 2 marathons, countless half marathons and have coached running classes for 6 years...and the following is what I've learned:

1. Slow down. I can't say it enough: we take life way too fast. Much like those days when I have over-scheduled my life and left myself with little to no breathing room, going lickety-split will only serve to wear you out. Slow down. It took me a year to learn that I needed to be able to carry a conversation during a run. How true is that in life? If I'm too busy to talk to you, then I'm too damn busy. Slow.It.Down.

2. Go your own pace. There will always be someone faster than you. There will always be someone slower than you. Don't compare yourself to them. It will only derail you. The minute you get focused on how great someone else is, you've lost the battle on coming to grips with who God made YOU to be.

3. Don't go alone. Now listen: I've had hundreds of lovely runs by myself. They can be wonderful. But in the long run, if you're always by yourself, you're missing out. My dad has a motto, "there's two things you can't do by yourself: get married and be a Christian!" I think that life wasn't meant to be lived alone. Isolation is the beginnings of death. Running with others provides accountability, welcomed distraction, camaraderie, and friendship - all necessary for life!

4. Tune your mind into truth. It is very easy on a run to let what one of my favorite authors calls "Bad Mind" take over. To quote Anne Lamott, "Bad Mind kicked in...It whispers to me that I am doomed because I am such a loser. And Bad Mind can lean ever so slightly toward paranoia." While running, as in life, I have to constantly change the channel of my mind from negativity to hope, trust, and perseverance. Will this be a hard workout? Probably. But look! The sun is coming up! My body is healthy! What a great way to start the day and thank you Lord for this lack of humidity! Be gone, Bad Mind! An old friend once described this process as keeping your head up and letting the dark clouds of your mind roll by...

5. The only person who can define you as a runner is you. Years ago people would ask me, "are you a runner?" and my mouth would go dry. I would stammer and explain that yes, I run...but... I had a million excuses about how slow I was, how sometimes on a hard run I still had to walk. It took about 3 years of me coaching running classes to see how ridiculous this was! I'm a runner! So I run! In fact, that's what gets me up at 4:45am to do those crazy hill workouts. I'm a runner. So I behave like a runner...and runners run. I've had seasons when either injury, or insecurity, or simply life took me away from running. But that didn't change who I was.

One last thing to add: SHOES. People, the right shoes will do wonders for you. If you're near Dallas, I highly recommend Run On!

8 comments:

Jess said...

What a great post, Becky. You write so well!

dianeroutson said...

How did you become so wise?

Carol Orender said...

Thanks, Becky, for your insights into running (I'm NOT a runner) and life ( I DO live). I appreciate you!!!!

Katy said...

Beckles, I needed to hear everything you just said; especially the parts about slowing down and living life with other people. I thank God that He revealed these things to you so that you could share them with us. Wouldn't it be fun to coach a class together some day?

Davidson's Diary said...

Loving the Slow Down part. I could take a cup of that every morning!

Caleb said...

Hmmm, this camp you mentioned. Does it happen to have a reaaly long hill called Cardiac Hill? I remember running that hill whe working at a sports camp in Missourie.

Beck said...

Yes, Caleb. It was Kanakuk - though the hill I mentioned wasn't Cardiac (I've run that one, too)...it was a hill out at K8. Small world.

Stacy M said...

I love this post...all true! Love you wise one.....