It’s amazing how what starts out to be an off the cuff comment or joke can jolt your life in a new direction and inspire an inner passion. I had liked the “thought” of being a runner for years, but it always seemed the best time to start was “tomorrow”.
Until a hot day in mid summer and I was out cutting the grass. My family sat in the air conditioning watching me though our family room window - the comment came up by one of my daughters, “Dad’s getting thick”.
At that point, my running journey began. I had tried running off and on for years before but never got past a few weeks at a time.
This time was different. I thought it was to get healthy but there really was much more happening. This was a time in my life where I was also really challenging my faith and my walk with God. It was at this point the idea of chasing Jesus in my spiritual life and using my new passion for running to grow my faith emerged. We are all broken and trying to find our way in a broken world. I run because I’m broken! As I ran the thought that came to my mind was release the brokenness. I felt the pain of each step was actually releasing some of my brokenness.
This got me going. It kept taking me to farther distances. I ran my first 5k and worked my way up to being able to run 6 miles. Feeling good about my progress I decide I need to run a half marathon. I loosely put a training plan together and completed my first half marathon in 2009 during the Joplin Boom Town Days. I finished but really thought I was going to die and swore I would never do that again! (And I have a picture that can prove that is how I felt.)
But the next year I was right back at it training for another half marathon. This addiction just kept growing over the years to include multiple full marathons and even a 50k for good measure.
The question keeps coming up why keep running? It hurts, it takes time from my family, it costs me money to buy shoes and register for races. The truth is, it makes me a better Husband, Dad, employee, and a better person. The feeling of giving my all and “emptying my tank” to allow myself to be renewed again is why I run.
There is no other sport that your competition is encouraging as you go up against them. I have been encouraged countless times on a race course as I get passed or as I pass someone. “Keep going, you’re doing great!” At the end of the day, we are all only competing against ourselves. Sometimes that is to get a better time, sometimes that is to empty myself of my continued brokenness.
Just as in life we have to run uphill at times. We just have to keep moving. As we think we can’t go any further, the hill ends and life somehow just is better. We can do more than we ever thought.
So I ask myself what is a runner? To me, it’s anyone who is willing to lace up a pair of shoes and be willing to face some sacrifice to become a better person. To be willing to make themselves better inside and out by putting one foot in front of the other and repeating that process!
At the end of the day, I know I’m still broken but I also know I will run the race set before me with perseverance.
HEB 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”
God bless and keep on keeping on!