A couple of blogs I read, one a blog written by a friend, the other my favorite “mommy blog,” have featured posts on running lately.  I’ve recently started running with some regularity, and find that if I can run every other day I start to see major improvement quickly.  I run slowly but make myself run the whole time.  My sisters, brother-in-law, and husband and I ran a Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning, and my youngest sister remarked, as we all piled into the car at 7 AM, “Who are we?  Did we switch families?”   It was a hilarious comment, and spot on, because we are an active, healthy family but not the kind that wakes up at 6 AM on Thanksgiving to go run in the cold.  But I was so glad we did; even though for some people a 5k requires no training and is in fact merely a warm-up run, for all of my adult life I have thought of myself as one of those people who isn’t and never really will be a runner, though I truly wish I were one of those people for whom running is fun, a release and a joy. 

But I have indeed found running to be like most other things in life that are “good for me”– that is, I always am glad once I’ve done it, often enjoy it once I begin, but never seem to have the willpower to stick with it, to drag myself out of my lazy resting state and get going even at times or on days when I’d Really Rather Not, thankyouverymuch.  I love the feeling in my lungs for the rest of the day after a run, like they’ve really been put to use; I love feeling the energy and the health and the improvement in mood that follows a good workout.

Today’s run started off okay, and then went downhill from there, probably because I hadn’t run since last Friday and was already slowly creeping out of the habit.  After about 20 minutes I did not want to keep going (my goal had been 30 minutes).  I found myself once again listening to that voice in my head, the needling, wheedling little one that says things like, “Go ahead and stop, you deserve to give yourself a break.”  Or “Nobody is watching or cares whether you run this next 10 minutes or not.”  Or “You just can’t; you’re not built for this–give up!”

And then I realized that my answer to all these suggestions could tell me a lot about my answers to a lot of life’s challenges, big or small.  Why do I push myself, challenge myself, do things when I don’t want to?  Why keep going when it gets tough?  Who’s watching and who will really care?  (It’s almost easier, once you become a parent, because you haven’t any real choice in the matter.  It may be 6 AM and you may be exhausted, but someone does care if you get up, no one thinks you deserve a break, and they certainly don’t care whether you think you’re up to it!)

That last 10 minutes today was about more than running another mile (or less, since it’s me we’re talking about here– my mile is more of the 12-minute variety, but whatever, I show up!)– it was an attempt to counter all those doubts with an affirming confidence and self-discipline.  I ran those last 10 minutes for my athletic friend, who’s so painfully pregnant right now that she can barely walk across the house, much less run.  I ran for those who are sick or injured and who would love nothing better than to have the choice to stand up and run.  I ran for the One who redeems me from all my self-pity and fear, for the One who gave me a body that can run, and run farther than I ever thought possible.