Running, to him, was real. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.” ~John L. Parker Jr.
Taylor and I headed out on a six mile run a few weekends ago. I love that boy-a-mine. And running is something we like to do together when he’s home. He’s fast, he’s young—I’m slow, I’m old-ish. He got so far ahead of me that when he finished, he came back and ran the half mile with me. Now, that’s a good son, right there. It made me so thankful, that over the years, for all the mistakes I’ve made, he has picked up something from my life that will serve him well.
Three or four mornings a week, I leave my house while it’s still dark, lace up my tennis shoes, crank up my music, put in my headphones, and head out for a date with the pavement. Some days, I can’t wait to get out there and some days, I’d rather stay in the comfort of my cozy house. But, I’ve learned over the years how desperately I need this, more for my heart and soul than anything.
My commitment to exercise is more out of my desperate attempt to preserve sanity than anything else. Running tames my wandering spirit and helps me stay focused in my writing. Running is a way to release the stress of the week as well as a way to renew my energies for my big long to do list. I’ve been running for so long that my runs are like old friends to me. There’s a familiarity in the strike of the pavement and the rhythm of the breathing that I’ve grown to love. But, every single run is hard.
It might get easier, but it never gets easy.
And the hardest part of the run is always the first step out the door. Leaving home is always the hardest part for me. That’s the part that you have to make as easy and as automated as possible, because there are a million obstacles.
I’m too tired.
I don’t have enough time.
I’m so out of shape.
Whoever invented running shorts?
Why even try?
It’s too cold.
It’s too hot.
It’s too humid.
I’m too old.
You recognize those excuses, don’t you? Well, guess what? I have a million more. But, if I can get myself out of the door, I’ve overcome the biggest hurdle and I have never one time regretted doing it.
So, if you still have the capacity to get outside and get some exercise, take advantage of it. It won’t last forever. Whether you run or not, I’m a huge advocate of getting some exercise outside if possible. We need the fresh air, the fresh perspective, the sun on our face and it’s good to ask our bodies to work hard. We need it for so many reasons.
Asking my body to do hard things reminds me that I’m weak and undisciplined. It reminds me that there are so many things in life I have yet to learn.
Running keeps me humble. It’s so hard and unforgiving sometimes.
But then there are those days—those days when nothing else will do, when the only answer to the struggle of the mental and spiritual battles is to ask my body to do the same. Blood, sweat, and tears. It’s not just a good metaphor for life, it is life—with all its valleys and battles, and mountaintops.
For those of you who have never (or not in a long time) done any regular exercise, let me encourage you to start. Just getting out to walk a few times a week would be a great first step. The couch to 5K program would be perfect, if you still have the capacity to run. Whatever you decide, decide to do something. And be thankful you still have the chance.
Just do it.
Day 20 Challenge: For the rest of the month, cut your coffee (or caffeine) consumption by half. Try drinking decaf or tea or even just water instead. Then sometime today, walk or exercise for at least 15 minutes. Consider making a bigger fitness goal, then share it with us on Facebook!
Be sure to read Ruth’s corresponding post, Less Caffeine.