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: