Monday, June 23, 2014

Run for the Cure

Let me start by saying that I absolutely hate running. Picking up my entire body weight and moving it down the street, on the treadmill or around a track is not my idea of a good time. For the most part, I would rather do ANYTHING other than run. However, I decided to take it up a few months ago just to see if I could handle it. My life was in transition, and I needed an outlet. Normally, that outlet is called Chardonnay, but at the time, I needed something that gave me a sense of accomplishment. I needed something that made me feel good again...a cure for my brokenness.

Low and behold, I started to, dare I say, like it! I enjoyed the peace and quiet it provided... a welcome change from the constant battery of daily life. It became therapeutic for me. I plugged in a pair of earbuds, laced up my sneakers and hit the pavement. There, at one with the open road, I could just let my mind rest and focus on completing the task at hand.

Once I got a little more accustomed to running, I noticed that a lot could be learned from the simple, yet challenging, act.

1. No matter how familiar you are with the path, there's always the possibility of something unfamiliar popping up.

To my surprise one day, the road I normally traveled was being torn to shreds by a construction crew. I don't know if they were putting speed bumps in or taking them out but either way, there were orange cones and large cranes taking up the entire street. I was going to have to take a detour. WTH! That would mean a longer route, more unexpected surprises since I didn't know the terrain and, undoubtedly, more work on my part. I was not very happy. This went on for a least a month. But what I found was that the added challenge prepared me for the next roadblock or construction crew in my life. The more I dealt with and overcame issues, the more I was prepared for the next one. Okay, prepared is probably not the correct word, but I am certainly not devastated by every little setback or hard lesson anymore. It has increased my endurance for life and for that, I am grateful.

2. If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you'll get to your destination.

I am a church girl, but am lacking in the traditional African American talent commonly known as ISQ-impromptu scripture quoting. However, I do have one for this occasion. "The race is not given to the swift or to the strong, but to the one who endures." Don't ask me what book this comes from, but I know it's in there somewhere. The point is that this life tries to convince us that it's all about winning. It's all about the fastest time or the top of the leader board. That's fine for a competition that has a specific endpoint. But in the race of life, there is no specific destination. It sounds cliche, but it's all about the journey. Shortly after beginning to run, I registered for a few 5k races. It always drove me crazy not to be able to see the finish line. I learned that the finish line isn't always the goal. Depending on the the struggle, it's about getting through the first mile or hell, just making it to the starting line to begin with. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will get there at the time appointed for you and learn the lessons you are meant to learn along the way. Can I get an amen?

3. The longer the run, the bigger the sense of accomplishment.

Raise your hand if you enjoy encountering problems in life. Anyone? Exactly. I feel like I could live my entire life without facing a problem and be just fine. But since starting to run, I've been able to gradually increase the distance that I tackle. Oh, it's not pretty, but I get through it. And no matter how much I pant, decrease my speed to just more than a walk or plain pass the hell out when I finish, I feel like I have done something. I know, it doesn't sound to important now, but while you are in one of life's storms, just the smallest sense of accomplishment can make it easier to pick up the pieces. It can give you that extra umph to keep going and not give up. Sometimes, all you need is a little reminder of how you overcame your first mile run to help you overcome that issue at work.  Or maybe you just need a refresher of how you found enough strength to beat your own personal best time to find the strength to forgive when someone who has wronged you. It's inevitable. The longer you do something, the more efficient you become at it. Embrace the long run. It builds you up for the additional mileage that life tends to throw at you.

I still hate to run, but I see the value it in. For you, it could be anything challenging...chess, cooking, swimming. Give it a shot. Don't be afraid to do that one thing that gives you the most anxiety. It could lead to some of the biggest discoveries of your life.


Please leave your comments. I would love to hear your thoughts.