There once was a time when if someone asked me if I would ever drag myself out of bed before dawn to go run I would have said, “Sure, when hell freezes over." Well, the devil must be wearing earmuffs and a mink coat because that's exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks, dragging my aching, sore body out of bed and pulling my tennis shoes on. You first must understand that I am not a runner. Back in high school when the sadistic coaches would make the class run laps, I would be the one pulling up the rear as I walked at a leisurely pace. Unless something was chasing me, I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why I should waste perfectly good energy running.
But things have changed. It wasn’t that I woke up one morning and thought: I think I’ll be a runner today. It was actually more subtle. I work on a college campus and because parking is a problem I decided to arrive earlier than normal in order to get a better parking space. When I arrived, the parking lot was empty except for a few cars. I grabbed my purse and began walking towards my office. On the walkway in front of me was a young man who moved slowly and painstakingly. On both arms he wore braces and his back was bent like a question mark. I watched him as he laboriously put one foot in front of the other and disappeared into the fitness center. Every morning I arrived early and there he was. I was awed by his determination.
On the days I walked behind him I found myself wondering what were the things in my life that I put that much effort into, and I came up blank. I was embarrassed to admit that I had grown comfortable in so many ways. My classes were going as planned and my writing was flowing. My family and I were healthy and happy and my life was pretty much on cruise control. I had achieved all of the goals I had set for myself and wasn’t really in any big hurry to set new goals. Then it hit me. I was growing comfortable and complacent. I needed something to push me out of my comfort zone.
Since there are no mountains to climb in Florida, I decided to run. I am not a fast runner and my only goal is to finish. There are days when I question my sanity in attempting this endeavor, yet I go out one more time. I've always heard that when the student is ready, the teacher will come and God has sent Jane. She is an experienced marathoner who encourages me to stop thinking about it and just do it. I also have two new friends-Natalie and Robyn-who push me and encourage me to test my limits. We are training for a marathon and each week we get closer to our goal. There is no doubt in my mind that we will cross the finish line, our bodies sore but our spirits revived because we finished what we started.
Though the years I've heard that running is a metaphor for life and now I understand why. Both require a great deal from you, but in the end all of the pain is worth it. There are also people along the way who encourage you when you're unable to encourage yourself. More importantly, each of us has the potential to do something beyond what we think we can do if we just remember that the first step is to take the first step.
Running may not be for you, but I would bet there is something that you want to do, but have gotten so comfortable that you've not bothered to attempt it. Take a moment to consider the following.
1. Are there any areas in your life where you feel there is room for growth? If so, what could you do to push yourself.
2. Many of us have things we would love to do but are too afraid to get started. What is the one thing you really would like to do? What little step could you take today towards making that dream a reality?
3. Having friends to encourage us along the way is a huge part of being successful. Name two or three people who you feel would encourage you as you began this new journey? Take a moment to call them and tell them what you're thinking about doing. How can they help hold you accountable?