A Good Runner
Running lately has been tough. Unfortunately, this is beginning to feel like the story of my running life. I keep waiting for it to get easy, or feel good, or at least lose a few pounds but it does none of these for me.
Yesterday I trudged in after a very rough six-miler as Nelson was getting in the truck to head to work. "How was the run?" he cheerfully asked as he always does.
"Really not good," I panted. "It's all I can do not to cry right now. I'm ready to give it up."
"Hon," he tried to encourage me, "it's really hot. Don't give up."
Truth is I know it's really hot. The temperatures around here have been over 100 with heat indexes that add about 10 more degrees. Y’all, it's hot down here and it's no joke. When I come in from a run, I can literally wring out everything I wore.
This kind of heat combined with our sticky humidity is doing a number on me and making my already slow times even slower; which, quite frankly, I didn't think was possible. It does this to everyone, but I forget about that. It's hotter than all the other summers I've run, but I forget about that too. Instead I've spent most of my runs the last three weeks or so putting myself down, doubting my ability and sanity, and wondering what in the world I was doing posing as a runner.
Today though, in the wee hours when the alarm went off, I got up anyway. I got up because I needed to run. Good or not, I'm part of a team now and I've no choice but to forge ahead. It's been so bad, I've actually been trying out the Galloway method of running a few minutes with a one minute walk break for my sanity and to try and prevent my darn IT band from killing me. This is kind of humiliating for some reason but it's what I've had to do to keep at it.
This morning was a short four mile run and my personal challenge was to run it without stopping, which I haven't done in weeks. I could feel the old ITB tighten up by mile two and by mile three I had to stop and stretch it out. Besides the one stretch break, I did the four continuously and that was helping my awful attitude take a turn back towards the light.
A fourth of the way into my final mile, a young teenager I see running all the time passed me with ease. "Good job! Keep up the good work!" I got out as she blazed past. At that moment I ran into a friend who asked, "Can I run a little with you?" She just started two days ago and wanted to see how long she could hang with me.
"I hope I'm not slowing you down," she said to me as I've said to so many others through the years.
"Don't worry about it. I'm not in a hurry," I told her. "I'm happy to have some company."
For a half a mile we chatted about running and I gave her some tips. Did I just say that? She was asking me for help. Me? Seriously? Would I be willing to run with her again sometime? Could she ask me some more questions?
I am not a good runner. I am not fast. More likely than not, I never will be. God has given me many gifts, but running is definitely not one of them. Today however, He reminded me that sometimes being good at something is not always about obvious success. Today I realized that in that woman's eyes, I am a runner. Not only that, but a runner who knows enough to help her. In her eyes, running her first half mile by my side, I am good.
When good things happen to me I always pray that I will remember them so that one day I will be able to pay it forward and help someone else in need. When I started running I felt so encouraged by everyone in my group that I wanted to stay with the sport long enough to be able to do that for someone else. Today I did.
Maybe, I thought, God doesn't have me running so that I can be good at it, but rather so I can be a good runner. When I am running I have some of my best prayer times. When I am running, I am a powerful intercessor. When I am running, I have the power to build others up and encourage them.
Turns out, I am a good runner...I'm just not very good at it.