Why do it?

As this glutinous season grinds on, it’s time to look forward to the new year and start making our plans for training and racing.  I’m excited that so many in my inner circle of family and friends are lacing up and hitting the road (or the treadmill), and hope that many more will join us as this year closes and a new one begins.  As you look toward a healthier horizon, know that it’s never easy, sometimes it’s really boring, and not all runs are good ones, but making the decision to become a healthier you is one you’ll never regret.  Here are a few things that keep me looking for my running shoes at the crack of dawn.

*It helps me be nicer.  I took the week off from running after last weekend’s half marathon to nurse a few ouchies, and by Thursday, my sunny disposition had melted into a snarling, semi-hysterical puddle.  I had two vicious run-ins over the telephone, both of which make me hang my head in shame today.  Not that they were unprovoked, just that I usually deal with that type thing much better.  Apparently, I need running to help me deal with anger issues.  :/  Who knew?

*I’m responsible for my long term health/well-being.  No one else.  I often listen to podcasts as I run, and this morning’s run started with an Andy Stanley series entitled “Take Responsibility”.  In it, he made the statement that if you aren’t prepared to eat right and exercise now, when you’re healthy, you should sit your spouse or children down and ask them to go ahead and plan on taking care of you as you age.  Ouch.  While there are many things that lie outside my ability to prevent, there are lots of things that lie within it.  Eating well and exercising help me be the best me possible, today and in the future.

*I’m good to myself.  Time spent alone on an early morning run is the most quality time I spend with myself.  I relax, recharge, regroup, and reenergize.

*I catch up with my girl time.  Occasionally, I like to run with a friend.  It’s fun, motivating, and keeps the route interesting.

*I catch up with my guy time.  The thing I miss most about having my man down for the time being is running with him.  Yes, he pushes me hard.  Yes, that makes me grouchy.  It also makes me a better runner.  Get better soon, old man.

*I catch up on my reading.  I love to read.  But, my schedule (like yours) is overly full, especially this time of the year.  So, I download great books to my iPod that keep me company on long runs.  I’ve run with Harry Potter and friends, Jay Gatsby and Daisy, the inspiring women in “The Help”, Jamie and Claire Frasier from the “Outlander” series, and many,  many more.  I also like to listen to podcasts by some of my favorite speakers, including Andy Stanley (pastor of Northpointe Community Church in Atlanta), the late, great Zig Ziglar, the down to earth Joyce Meyers, and the funny girls over at Another Mother Runner.  Long runs are often “catch up on my podcasts” time.  

*I have a worship experience.  I have lots of music on my iPod and that sometimes leads to an amazing run.  My running playlist is very eclectic, running the gamut from Queen, Steppenwolf, and Tom Petty to Jonah 33, Jeremy Riddle, and Mercy Me and everything in between.  I dial it in, hit shuffle, and let God choose what I listen to.  At mile 4 this morning, just as I was getting in my groove, He selected Mercy Me’s “Word of God, Speak”.  And, it did.  Mile 4 was a hands raised to heaven kind of mile.  Love it when that happens.

*I feel spectacular.  I’ve been running consistently again for a little over three years.  I felt better after the first six months, then after a year, I felt great.  Now, I have energy to spare, morning runs fuel my day, I’m seldom sick with anything worse than a fever blister, and I wake up easily in the mornings, looking forward to the day.  Does it get better than that?

I hope this list helps you get motivated or re-motivated to move.  Please, don’t think you have to be a runner.  In fact, if you’re just starting out, haven’t run in a long time, are a little older, or are prone to injuries, just walk.  You never have to run, you certainly never have to race to reap the benefits of adding exercise to your life.  Everyone starts slowly, then gradually improves. It’s the natural way of things.    In the words of the incomparable, recently departed Zig Ziglar:

zig

How bad do you want it?

Years ago, I belonged to a Weight Watchers group in Hattiesburg.  My favorite instructor was Marsha, a woman older than myself who has been there and done that when it came to weight loss.  Her approach was very direct – no nonsense, and unsympathetic.  Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but it worked for me.  One of the things she always asked anyone who was falling down on their plan was, “How bad do you want it?”.  You have to want to lose weight more than you want that slice of red velvet cake if you’re going to be successful.

That’s a motto I’ve carried with me since then.  Whenever I approach a long term goal, whether it’s weight loss, a running goal, a business goal, or any other personal goal I’m reaching toward, I ask myself that question.  Because, if you don’t want it badly enough, you’re not going to be willing to put in the work required to get there.  Most goals worth setting require time, intense effort, and patience.  Few things in life worth having come to you without effort.

Getting back to running was one of those things for me.  I knew I wanted it in my life, had allowed it to fall by the wayside, and was ready to pick it back up and try it on for size.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t a good fit when I started back.  But, as the days turned into weeks, then months, then years, I established patterns that I’m excited to believe are with me to stay.  I’ve had to overcome a few things, and am still working to overcome some issues, but the end result is absolutely worth it.  I can say with confidence and no exaggeration that I feel better now than I ever have.  And, I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been.

Reawakening the discipline of exercise in my life has led me to become more disciplined in other areas of my life.  I eat much more intelligently now, and see food as a source of fuel, rather than a source of stress relief or comfort.  I’m learning to refine it so that it is the most efficient fuel burner I can make it.  This is a work in progress, but again, I want it badly enough to do it.

I’ve learned that my body doesn’t like it when I don’t give it the daily attention that it needs in the form of prayer, movement, and proper fueling.  On days that I oversleep and miss my early morning run, I’m foggy and foul tempered the entire day.  Summer runs in Mississippi have to be done very, very early out of necessity  in order to beat the heat.  Even 5 am runs can be 85 degrees with 95% humidity, so running any later in the day is a death wish.  I’m not a morning person.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  But, I know if I don’t run or crosstrain early, it won’t happen.  So, when my alarm goes off at 4:30 or 5 am, I have to bargain with myself to make it happen.  Usually, I tell myself that if I will just get up, I don’t really have to run, I can walk my miles today.  Of course, I know that when I get started, I won’t walk, I’ll run, but I have to trick my psyche to make it leave my nice warm nest.  Amazingly enough, that works almost every time.  I guess my psyche is too groggy with sleep to call me on the lie that early, and by the time it catches on, the run already feels pretty good.  Sometimes, I just have to remind myself what a foul mood I’ll be in if I don’t get my run in.  Those moods are serious enough that I’ll do whatever it takes to prevent them, so out the door I go.

So, how bad do you want it?  Whatever your goal is, write it down, pray over it, and let God lead you to the best way to accomplish it.  Know ahead of time that it will take time, much more time than you want it to.  Prepare your mind with prayer, seek good, Godly advice, and most of all, know that as you are striving to achieve your goal, God will provide what or who you need to reach it at exactly the right moment.

My journey is ongoing.  I’m still struggling with weight issues (although I hope to have an exciting post about that in a few weeks) and am still really struggling with GI issues when I run.  But, with age and determination have come wisdom and patience.  I know I’ll get where I’m going, because God has set my feet on this path.  I recognize that this is my journey, and I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. If it took some gray hairs and the permanent sagging of my skin to get me to this place, then I can live with that.  And, I have a really good hairdresser (love you, Amanda!) and excellent skincare that is second to none (love you Fleur de Vie!).    😉