Apparently it’s going to take a while for me to get into a good routine of posting on a regular basis. So much has already happened since I last blogged, and I’m not sure where to begin. Beautiful drives, hikes, the new home, exercise, food….
So I guess I’ll start with something that’s been on my heart a lot lately, and that I’ve wanted to blog about for several months.
What started as a mere form of intense exercise my sophomore year of college has become one of the absolute highlights of my day. I love to go out in the morning while the air still has a twinge of night briskness, my hair admittedly a complete mess from sleep. My dog Zip enjoys running as much as I do, always whining and talking while I’m setting up the MapMyRun app on my phone. Once we start running, the first mile is always the hardest as my lungs remember how to breathe and I struggle to get into my stride. But once I find my stride and Zip settles down next to me (for the most part…), I enter into an incredible zone that is simultaneously freeing, rejuvenating, and exhausting.
Lately I’ve found myself thinking back over my progress since I started running about three years ago. I remember how elated I was when, in the spring of my sophomore year at college, I jogged for ten straight minutes on the treadmill. That was my first major running victory. Then about a year later, I ran six miles one spring weekend. However, coming back to school the following semester, I jumped into high mileage too quickly and couldn’t run again until the next spring semester when my IT band had healed. Even then, I pushed myself too hard and ended up with shin splints before I finished the school year.
More than once I’ve found myself in “no running” zones, waiting for one of my legs to heal. But as frustrating and discouraging as those days, weeks, or months were, they were essential to my becoming a better runner. I’ve discovered the necessity of knee wraps and stretching, at least for my injury-prone knees. I’ve learned to up my mileage and speed slowly, to run in cooler weather to prevent heat migraines, to buy proper running shoes instead of cheapy Walmart ones.
But most importantly, I’ve realized how much I treasure running – what a joy it is to cruise alongside a river, or race down a road in hope of setting a new PR. To challenge the wind pressing against my chest, to match my breathing with my footsteps, to smell rain and freshly-mown grass and drying laundry and frying doughnuts, to be delightedly aware of nature’s many voices — to feel genuinely and vibrantly alive.
I can’t help but realize and be overwhelmed by how blessed I am to simply run. There are moments when I’m so overwhelmed and awed by God’s goodness that, even though I’m physically running, in my heart I’m dropping to my knees. I think that, for me, running is almost a form of worship. It’s a time for me to talk with God, to mull over life, to be appreciative rather than critical of my body, and to truly be thankful for the limbs and abilities I so often take for granted.
For me, every run is a gift.