"Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7
How many of you wish that you were more athletic? More fit? That you had that six-pack you always wanted, not the keg that is currently keeping that six-pack warm? That is something I have been struggling with for a very long time.
My siblings have always been pretty active, doing martial arts and other sports. My big brother especially was a natural-born runner, basketball wiz, athletic, skinny, amazing guy. The great outdoors were and still are his element. He has the natural runner’s physique, where he can basically eat crap food all day, and yet not gain a pound (it bugs him, but isn’t that any girl’s dream?).
Steven is two and a half years older than me, so we spent a lot of time together in the same schools. I remember when I was first going into high school. Steven was a great long distance runner (again, a natural-born runner), and had run on the cross-country team for all his years in high school (he was in 11th grade by this time). I was a pretty shy kid at this point, having a hard time making friends in school. My brother, who was always a very charismatic and popular guy, encouraged me to join the team, saying that it was a great way to meet people. So, I relented and joined, though I had never done any form of track in my life!
There was good reason as to why I never did track seeing that I was a terrible runner! I wouldn’t run even a 5k without walking, which is not acceptable when you are part of a team. Our girl’s team at my high school was small enough that I was always the only one on the JV team. I never pushed myself to reach new running goals and times, to get on Varsity. My brother, on the other hand, never got bumped down to JV. I wanted so badly to be like him; to be able to excitedly go for a run, knowing that I could run all 3.1 miles without stopping (or even 6 miles for practice). I wanted to have fun and have my coach like me (which she didn’t). I was a major let down to myself, my coach, and my team. I hated running.
The following years of high school, I spent my time dancing instead. I joined an awesome Christian dance studio that I still go back to and visit, even though I don’t live in the same town anymore.
Once I stopped running on the team though, I realized something. I realized how much I loved to run! And, I began running on my own time, with my own motivation. I enjoyed not having to compete with other runners, but mainly myself. But, the biggest thing I found out about running was the benefits it had to my body. Of course, I lost a ton of weight from running. My freshman year in college was one of the heaviest running and body changing seasons of my life so far. I was able to lose at least 15 pounds, while most people were gaining the Freshman Fifteen that came with gorging yourself on the dining hall all-you-can-eat selections. But, what was greater than my physical health was my mental health! I found a way to cope with the stresses of taking sixteen credit hours, and being in a new town and environment.
Each night, I would lace up my running shoes, throw on a sports bra, shirt, and short, grab my Ipod and head out the door. It was just me, the stars, the empty football stadium (most of the time), and my music. The air would be still and quiet, but my mind would come alive. I would sort through my current relationship issues, take out my frustration over sucking at math (English majors all the way!) on the pavement. I never really kept track of how far I went, what my pace was, or how many calories I was burning. It was just me and the road ahead.
I think so often we get worked up over our physical appearance and health that we forget the importance of mental capabilities. Yes, running helped me get into shape and to a place I was happy with in terms of body image, but it was mainly because of how it made me feel mentally! My body told my mind that was I was doing was good for me. I would get the infamous runner’s high, but it wasn’t just from running. It was because I was finally able to silence my mind.
Your mind is always going to be the best app you can ever use on a run. Make smart choices about where you are going, and how hard you are pushing yourself, but don’t get so caught up that you forget the best part of running. Simply go, breath, and escape.
A special thank you to my big bro for inspiring me and teaching me the importance of health! Who is your inspiration?