Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Good For My Soul

Every once in a while I have one of those runs that is simply good for my soul.

Most of the time I hesitate to even call myself a runner.  Because I'm really not.

Yes, I do run, but typically only when I am training for an event.  And I dare not call these events "races" lest you think I actually ever beat anyone, because I don't.

But non-the-less, I sign up for these events once or twice a year and this forces me to get outside and actually run.  Some days this is excruciatingly painful, other days it just sucks a little, and some days, not very often, but occasionally, it is a joy, and I come back filled deep in my soul.

Today was one of those days.  My neighborhood sits a top a hill.  So the first mile of my run invariably is down hill.  As I started out today, I knew it was going to be a good run.  It is easy running down hill, the weather was perfect, cool air seeped into my lungs, it was in every sense of the word "a breath of fresh air".  One I desperately needed.  

As I finished mile one I turned the corner and there I found the first of several hills I would have to run to make it back home.  The problem with living on top of a hill is that though the first mile is a nice easy down hill, you inevitably have to, at some point, somehow, make it back up to the the top of the hill.  And there was hill number one right in front of me as soon as I turned that corner.

Has that ever happened to you?  You are cruising along enjoying life, thinking things don't get much better than this.  And then you turn a corner and all the sudden right before you is a big ole hill.  Sometimes the hill before you is manageable.  You know it will take your full concentration and a lot of work and sweat, but you know you can make it up it.  But sometimes the hill seems insurmountable, and you want to quit without even trying.  Because it's going to be impossible, it will take your blood, sweat and tears, and even then you probably won't make it up it.  

I have been there.  I have faced some pretty insurmountable hills in my life.  And let me tell you what I have learned.  In the running world there are a couple tricks to running hills.  First, tuck your head.  Look down, not up.  Concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and put your focus on your arms.  Because your feet will move at the same speed and motion as your arms.  And don't forget to breath.  Although my mind typically tends to wonder as I run, sorting out all the clutter stuck in my mind.  When I am running up hill, that is no longer an option.  It takes all my energy, all my focus. And when it gets to hard to keep up the pace that has been set, shorten your steps, slow down.  There may even come a time when you simply can not run up that hill anymore and you have to walk.  That's okay, just keeping moving forward.  Because trust me, the bigger and the harder the hill is, the better the view once you get to the top.  

Whether or not you are a runner, these same principles apply to the hills in your life.  When you are facing a hill, tuck your head down, close your eyes and pray.  Don't look up at how impossible that hill is going to be, put your trust and your focus on God.  Concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and put your focus on the one who has immeasurable strength.  He will neither leave you nor forsake you.  And he is enough to get you up this hill.    And don't forget to breath.  Never under estimate the power of a big deep breath.  And when the time comes that you simply can not run up this hill any longer, it is okay to walk, take baby steps if the need be.  But keep on, keeping on, don't give up.  You will get there.  Trust me.  And once you are there, once you reach the top, enjoy it.

Take the time to enjoy the top of the hill.  Look around you and take in the view.  Look back and see how far you have come.  Celebrate the blood, sweat and tears you have shed, you are now stronger than you were when you were at the bottom.  Celebrate that.  Then enjoy the run down the hill.  Even when you see the next hill on the horizon, enjoy the down hill.  Take the time to soak in what you have done, get your breath back.  Enjoy your new strength.  

The thing about hills is every one you face, every hill you run, makes you stronger and it makes the next hill you face that much easier.  

Today I ran a hill I had been unable to complete thus far in my training.  I had attempted it 2 other times and both times I ended up walking.  But today I ran it.  That doesn't mean I will be able to run it as successfully next time, but today I did.  And I will celebrate that.  

Today my run was good for my soul.

"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us"
Hebrews 12:1