A friend at work asked me recently why I love running. It's a valid question, most of us have bitter memories of P.E. back in middle school and high school when we were forced to run The Mile. In my memories, The Mile was always run first thing in the morning when it was freezing cold. I clearly remember hating every moment as I plodded around the track, lungs heaving from the cold and from being out of shape. I didn't always love running. In fact, I started running to lose some of my baby fat at the beginning of high school. Running and I have had a love/hate relationship because I abused it at the beginning and made it into a forced chore rather than appreciating it for the freeing activity it is (but, more on that at another time). Now though, I can't see myself not running.
So why do I love something that others see as a punishment? I'll tell you.
1. To stay in shape. The most obvious reason I suppose. Who doesn't feel better about themselves when they're in shape?
2. I feel closer to God. I love being outside in nature, whether it's outside in my neighborhood or on a trail among the trees and water. I feel God in nature. The wind in my hair, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sun shining off of a lake - they all whisper His glory. And in those moments, I feel like I'm being allowed to witness part of Him.
3. Running makes me feel strong and healthy. I remember what it was like when I first started running. I was out of shape and wheezing by the end. Now when I finish a run, I feel a sense of accomplishment because I did something that I couldn't before.
4. I can think clearly. After running for so many years, it is more than just exercise.Running is a time to clear my mind and think things through. All the stress and noise of everyday life stops and I forget that I'm running and become lost in thought. Somehow, everything becomes simple and quiet and I can think straight again.
5. I know who I am. Many times in my life, I feel out of place. Like a little girl playing dress up, I feel like I'm acting out a part - a small child in a grown-up's shoes going through the motions of being an adult. When I run, I know who I am. I know my body and what it can take because I've done this so many times before. I'm confident and sure, I know my place in the world.
Do I always feel like running? No. Do I have bad days when I count down the minutes until the run is over? Yes.
But why should I let that stop me?