Why Running Is About More Than Getting in Shape
It was at about this time last year that I decided to dust off my running shoes and give it a try to become an actual “runner” again. When I had kids, I officially moved from athlete to athletic supporter by cheering for them on the sidelines. It was during one of those (apparently) physically exerting cheers that I felt my heart racing and was winded. I decided it was time to focus on getting myself healthy.
It is not always easy to take the first step (literally and figuratively). I have three kids, so time is a major issue. I am not a fan of running on a treadmill, so I decided that I was not going to take this seriously unless I had a running partner who also took it seriously. My absolute best friend since childhood is a runner in the true sense of the word, and even though she was supportive of my return, there was no way I would be able to keep up with her. So I started with a neighbor, who is also a good friend. We were going strong for about a month and a half, and then we took to the 5:20 a.m. text that “I just really didn’t feel like it and I need more sleep.”
This was shaping up to be so much harder than I expected. And that’s when in walked—well, actually ran—Steve! An athletic director at our local college, he has run marathons in the past, which seems intimidating. But it turns out his reasons for running are similar to mine: He runs to stay healthy for his family and to have the energy to keep up with his grandkids. Once Steve and I began running together, here’s what I discovered about why a good running partner is key to success and commitment:
- Choose a good friend who will also hold you accountable. Steve is my friend, but when that alarm clock goes off at 5 a.m., I know he is already on his way to our running spot. If I back out, I feel like I am letting him down. How awful to make your running partner wake up that early and then not show? He feels the same about me.
- Find someone who is slightly faster than you. They will push you to go faster than you thought you could go because you are trying to keep up.
- Choose someone who is committed to getting and staying healthy. If they lack commitment then both of your accountability will be out the door and you may go strong for a while but it may not last.
We all know running is good for your physical health, but for me running has become so much more than getting in shape. While I’m out there, putting one foot in front of the other, I’m usually able to find solutions to problems that have been nagging at me. I can pray for my family and friends during my runs. I can set goals and see my crazy, hectic schedule a little clearer when I run in the mornings. I face life better. I get to see the world wake up. I start when it is dark and quiet. I sometimes see shooting stars and the occasional deer eating in a neighbor’s yard. And as Steve and I are running down the home stretch, the birds start to talk, and I feel accomplished. What an amazing way to start a new day!
Filed under: Mind/Body/Soul