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Why Am I Doing This?

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

You know how I started running? Couch to 5k. When I started, I could barely run for a whole minute. It was SO hard. Over time, and with a commitment to get out of bed at 5:30am AT LEAST 3 times a week (usually 4-5 times), I saw my body change and felt things get easier. After 3 months of this CONSISTENT work, I could run for half an hour - no problem!!! Even though it was at a snail's pace and I still weighed (and still do) 225 lbs.

But sitting out for 7 weeks changed that. It's no secret that I kept my fitness up for the entire period when I was in the boot. But, just because I am generally fit does not mean I magically kept my ability to run straight through for half an hour without stopping.

Rather, I feel as if I'm starting over...not from the beginning, necessarily. Because I can run longer than a minute...but maybe from where I was, say, 1-2 months in. The most I can do right now is 5 minutes.

I have a 5k race on Saturday, which I signed up for LONG before my injury. I have had ONE run of any substance since I returned to running. I used to think of a 5k as a mere blip. "Simple! Not even something I need to worry about! Just a fun little hour of my life!" Well...that was arrogance. Plain and simple. And I honestly believe that part of my injury was God ever so gently calling me out on this spirit of arrogance. A 5k is not an easy, Sunday jog. It's a pretty good distance! There's nothing EASY about it!

Forgive me if I'm wandering a bit, but this journey of health and fitness can't just be about how strong *I* am and how much work *I* put into my sport or how accomplished *I've* become or how many races *I* have completed. If that is all that it's about, it's just sad....and empty. It needs to be about more than that.

I've been wrestling with this idea for some time now. WHY AM I DOING THIS? To prove something to someone? To myself? To show off? To get skinny? To find an identity? To impress my friends? To switch one addiction for another? I don't want to work so hard at something in my life for such vain pursuits.

If I'm going to give my time, my energy, my MONEY, and my family's time to this training and this dream of running, triathlon, Ironman...I better have some reasons that align with my core beliefs and values. Or it's all for naught.

So, thinking on these things...the following are my reasons for pursuing this life of health/fitness/competition:

1. My own fitness journey has always signaled to me that God is able to make NEW life out of anything that we believe is dead and gone. Every day that I am able to get up and run or swim or bike or hike or ANYTHING is, and should always be recognized as, a gift to me.

I lived through an injury so severe, any sane person would live in fear for the rest of their life and never again attempt anything active, in an effort to guard against re-injury.

With the help of a great Bible Study leader and some pretty supportive family members, I dared to believe that I was strong enough to jog 20 feet on the trail one day. And when I jogged for that 10 seconds, my daughter rejoiced. That was the moment I believed that I COULD. And I just kept going. And every time I feel that runner's high, I thank God for bringing me BACK TO LIFE.

2. I want to set an example for my immediate family, for my friends and for others. It's not a "look at me and how great I am" kind of thing. Rather, it's a "look how terribly far gone I was and how cruel I was to myself and my body. And look at where I am today. Miracles are possible. Health IS possible."

I know we hear it all the time, but it's because it's true: If I can do it, you CAN do it. And aren't we all here to share the load together? Don't we need a little inspiration to get that first swift kick in the butt right in the beginning? Yes. I did. And so do all of us.

3. I didn't have this goal in the beginning, but as this thing has taken off and grown, it's become more than I ever could have imagined. So, my third goal is to touch people's lives. Because people MATTER.

Not just with blogs going out to the masses. I want to INTENTIONALLY look for SPECIFIC ways I can touch specific people's lives - to come alongside them and give them a word of encouragement or hope or support.

When I began to "wake up" to this new life of health, I began to see so much beauty in myself that I had never acknowledged before. The best part is, I can see that in everyone else now too! If it weren't so creepy, I'd just love to tell everyone I meet that they are so ridiculously beautiful. And that has nothing at all to do with figure or physique. It has everything to do with their VALUE as a human being. We are all WORTH fighting for.

4. Finally, I want healthy fruit. I'm not talking about pears or grapes, although I do want those. I'm talking about this:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." - Galatians 5:22-23

I happen to be a person of faith. And I believe that, to truly live what I say I believe, I need help from a power higher than myself. For me, this is the Holy Spirit. And His fruit is listed above.

It stuns me to read these verses in light of what running and endurance sports have produced in my life thus far.

Love - Well, I love myself. Is that worth noting?

Joy - Oh yeah!

Peace - Can't beat that feeling of peace after a good run.

Patience - Well, I have a lot more patience with my kids after a run and, in part, I have to have patience with my own body and not push it past its limits.

Kindness - Seeing my own weaknesses helps me to be more understanding towards the weaknesses of others. And a good training program WILL show you alllll your weaknesses.

Goodness - Welllll....jury's still out on that one! ;)

Faithfulness - Try to run a 26.2 mile marathon without it, friend.

Gentleness - Ask my husband if I've been more gentle since I began this lifestyle.

Self-Control - Are you kidding me??? We've hit the mother load here! 5:30am sucks...I'm just saying. And don't you KNOW how much I LOOOOVE Taco Bell?

There is so much potential in competition and sports to become so self-focused. And I just don't want to be *that* girl. I don't want my healthy diet or my fitness pursuits to define me and give me my identity. I want to have a solid identity FIRST and then have everything else in my entire life flow out of that.

So, I'm going to switch out my Vision Collage with the list above. I feel like it's a lot healthier motivation for me going forward. Training will only get harder and longer and more difficult. Time will be less available for other things and I don't want to miss out on the good that can come from all my hard work and slowly evolve into a person who is simply spinning her wheels, only to wake up one day and say, "Wait...I feel empty. Why am I doing this?"
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