I think people have this perception that runners always love running. Like they think we love running as much as people enjoy binge watching Netflix or eating chocolate. They couldn’t be more wrong.
The honest truth is most of us struggle to get started. And most of us, at least my friends and husband and I, usually say “I hate this” at least once in a run–ha! We have lots of excuses for not wanting to get started. The couch is so comfortable. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. The bed is so cozy and I need my sleep. The excuses flow like honey… So why do we do it? We run for the feeling of euphoria when we accomplish a seemingly impossible run or get a personal record. When the weather is nice and our nutrition is perfect, and we aren’t working around an ache or pain , we actually do have fun. The freedom of getting out on the road and being in nature–it’s wonderful! But when it’s raining or you’re fighting through pain, it can be down right miserable.
Sometimes we get in running ruts. Last year, training for my first half marathon was so exciting I rarely had a bad day. I was so excited that I was able to run and keep up with my training plan, I was just on cloud nine the whole time. But this year as I’ve begun to train for my 3rd half leading into my first full marathon in October, I’ve been feeling discouraged. I’m faster than I was a year ago and that’s so exciting, but I’m finding it harder to get motivated for my weekday training runs. I’m having more aches and pains and needing to ice my knees and stretch my hips more often and I just feel old.
I’ve been praying for a renewed love of running. For God to meet me in the apathy and aches and pains and restore to me the joy I once felt on my solo weekday runs. My game changer came when I least expected it. A sweet lady from our church stopped by my house to pick up some items I had sold her. She asked about how our training was going and she shared she had been a triathlete! I had no idea! She shared about how hard it used to be for her when she rode her bike up hills during training runs. She hated the hills. Does anyone NOT hate hills? But she said her way to concur them was to stop cursing the hills and instead find things to praise God for as she went up the hills. Thank you, God for those flowers. Thank you, for the blue sky and the bright sunshine.
I thought about this a lot over the week. We have a LOT of hills in our area. You can’t really go for a run without having to go up and down several hills. On my normal route, there is this hill.
It’s right before I begin my last mile on the way home. It’s so ominous. There are two dogs in the yard at the bottom of this hill and they bark ferociously at me when I begin my ascent. I usually chant I HATE HILLS with each and every step up the hill. Tonight, I stopped myself and began finding things to praise God for: Thank you, God for the dogs cheering me on as I run. Thank you, God that the March snow has melted and it’s a beautiful spring day. Thank you, God for the strength in my legs. Thank you, God for the energy to run. Thank you, God for meeting me here and caring about the little things and the big things.
I ended up with one of my best times on this particular route. I was so excited I could have run 3.1 more miles!
I’ll have more running ruts, I’m sure. I’ll still find excuses and struggle to drag myself out of bed on those long training run days, but I’m thankful for a God who makes the impossible things possible.