I hate distance running.
Hiking for 15 hours? Absolutely!
But pushing myself while sucking wind and not being able to enjoy the view is not my idea of fun.
However… I have begun to change some of that. Years ago when I was an adolescent I remember trying jogging for the first time with my mom. I still remember her telling me, “When you run down the hill, you rest” as we slowly made our way past Western Cemetery there in Portland. I have some good memories of that part of town — walks through the neighborhood with friends, playing football and just enjoying the peace and quiet an old cemetery offers.
But that day my side was killing me with cramps. “Why would anyone do this to themself?” I thought. Somewhere during that time my mom thought it would be a good idea to enter me into the “Run for Fun” mile-long race put on through my dentist office. Somehow, miraculously, I came in 10th place overall (but sadly was still beaten by one girl). After that she convinced me to be on the cross country team at my school in 6th grade. I can’t say I enjoyed it.
It was the next school year friends convinced me to join the indoor track team and I discovered my true hidden talent: sprinting. I was fast. I consistently ran and beat many of my competitors at the 40 yard dash, the 100 and the 220. Football and the position of tailback was a natural fit for me back then. But distance running? No way!
A Different Picture a World Away
Now I would like to paint for you a picture of not long distance running, but long distance walking, and not by choice. Of course there is a choice — to live. In many parts of the world if you want water it means going to get it. No turning on the tap at the flip of knob or handle. No, this is hardcore walking-in-the-heat-all-day-walking from home and back again. Every day.
It also means the kids (usually girls) who go and get water have to spend so much time doing it, they miss out in getting an education. It’s a parent’s sad and difficult choice of water over school. And it doesn’t need to be.
When arriving at the place to get water, it may look like this:
We have a chance to help kids not have to be here. But, let me return to my change of heart when it comes to running.
How My View of Running Changed
After I turned 40 a few years ago and especially this past year, I have begun to see the benefit of getting sweaty and pushing the body. My friend Kirk introduced me to the idea of Work as part of keeping a daily score of Work, Worship and Word. I had been through his free indeed class and as I thought about the necessity of getting myself in better shape to endure the race of life to overcome evil habits, my exercise (walking) was getting more and more important.
While I can’t say enough of how much I love hiking, I am a fair weather hiker. I hike during the summer months because if there’s one thing dislike more than distance running, it’s winter weather. And if it’s going to be nice out here in the plains, why would I want to go up high where not only is it going to be much colder but there will be blowing snow to contend with and wind chills that would cut right through you. No, I prefer to take it slow and enjoy the view.
Kirk said something in a class once that has been lodged in my brain since: “I exercise to the point of saying ‘I could quit right now, but I won’t.’” Walking for 30 minutes a day was not that. So I began interval training. I would walk and run, run and walk and actually work up a sweat. I began to dig.
But this life isn’t a downhill little walk toward the Kingdom. It’s uphill, with resistance and battles. I have found the battles hardest fought are the battles within. Battling against a voice, sometimes our own, often the voice of the Enemy, telling us we aren’t worth it.
Voices I’ve heard include:
Really? You think you’ve got what it takes to be a man? Look at all you’ve started and not finished.
Maybe others guys who’ve run marathons can achieve that feat, but not you. Your short little legs and overweight frame just isn’t built to go that far. You’d never make it.
You have an average mind. Many people around you are smarter and more disciplined than you. See? They set goals and achieve them. Forget even trying.
Anyone else hear similar voices? When we start digging, allowing God to work on deeper wounds of the soul, we risk bringing all these voices and thoughts to the front.
The question for us is, what will we say back to the negative self-talk? How will we react? How will I react?
That’s where I am right now. I’ve decided and actually entered to run a half marathon. A half marathon! 13.1 miles of jogging. 13.1 miles. What on earth am I thinking? I’ll let you in on a little bit after the longest run I ever did:
Back to Rwanda
There’s a reason I’ve decided to do this. And a reason why I am asking you to help. By donating money to my race, you can literally save lives. In fact $50 means one child gets clean water. It’s that easy. I’m going to be giving as well and I will be working hard over the coming weeks to ready by body for the day when I run for more than 2 and half hours because you pledged to help and because families need water.
Click the widget to donate. Watch the videos. Learn more about what you can do, because you are capable of more than you know.
And thank you from the bottom of my heart where I’m digging deep.