After talking about it for years, Leona and I finally ran a 5K this year. It was also one of the “targets we were aiming for.”
Here are seven things I learned along the way.
1. It was hard. Especially in the early weeks, it was really tough for me. Before this, I hadn’t done any real running since about 7th grade, so at first, even running for 90 seconds without stopping felt impossible. I would obsessively watch the app on my iPhone count down the seconds till I could walk again and huff and puff my way along till it gave me a break. It was worth the effort, but it wasn’t a walk in the park…
2. It wasn’t that hard. It’s funny to me now, having completed the race, how simple that “90 seconds of running” seems. Sure, it was tough to get going and press on through the hills and all, but it was doable. It wasn’t an “impossible dream” or anything. What was hard in the beginning seems easy, now. That’s something I want to keep in mind the next time I face any challenge.
3. It took time. The Cowtown Marathon Adult 5K was in February. We started training for it back in November. It took us longer to prepare for the race than the app we were using allowed for. We repeated some weeks and added extra “rest days” in between when needed. But we didn’t just wake up one morning and run a 5K. It took time.
4. A publicly stated goal and the encouragement of friends make for powerful fuel. Announcing what we were doing provided some accountability and put our reputation on the line. It was a good motivator to get out there and do it when we knew we were going to have to post our progress when we got home. On some nights, that was our sole motivator to complete the workout. And the encouragement from those who were following our progress made us feel like we were accomplishing something together with friends.
5. So much of the process was a head game. We received some great “running” advice early on: “If you’re hurting, do a ‘self-check.’ If it’s not going to kill you or cause irreparable damage – Keep going.” That was really good advice. “I’m not feeling comfortable, right now” is not the same thing as “It’s time to stop, now.” It’s so easy to psyche ourselves out…
6. We can do more than we think we can. Many times during the 5K training, Leona and I prayed and quoted Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Slightly out of context, but true nonetheless. 🙂 That was a very helpful reminder. When I would reach a point where I didn’t think I could continue, I’d also set a short goal, like “just make it to the end of this block.” Then I would make it to the end of the block, find a “second wind” and decide to keep going. It was surprising to me each time.
At the end of the Cowtown 5K, Leona and I both sprinted the last block to the finish line. I have no idea where that energy came from. But it was awesome. We can do more than we think we can.
7. The glory fades quickly. 🙂 We waited a full four days before running again after completing the 5K and it was immediately evident that we can’t coast in this thing – it was starting to feel “hard” again. We have to keep moving. There will need to be more running ahead; more 5K’s, 10K’s or who knows what.
I’ve decided to see “running” and exercise in the same way Andy Griffith ultimately approached “Aunt Bea’s Pickles.” After trying to find ways around having to eat them and keep from hurting her feelings, he ultimately decided on a different course of action. In the end he says to Barney, “Well, there’s only one thing to do. It’s what we should have done in the first place…Learn to love ’em.”
Running is still not my favorite thing to do but because of the many benefits it provides to my mind and body, I’m committed to learning to love it. And it’s growing on me. Or maybe I’m just growing.
I’m not interested in a one time goal. I’m interested in a new way of life – one that is active, strong, healthy and one that honors God with my body. At least in part, it is a spiritual act of worship, after all…
Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” ESV
1 Corinthians 6:20 “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ESV