Monday, April 9, 2012

Our Trek to Live Long and Prosper

I hope you all had a blessed Easter weekend!

As I was jogging the other day, more thoughts about how life is like running popped in my head. So I thought I’d share.

See, I’ve been sans treadmill for too long now – months. Combined with temperamental Midwestern weather, I haven’t exactly maintained a consistent running schedule. Sad, because I had been going five miles at a time and feeling really good about it. Now, I’m lucky to manage two without hacking up a lung.

But running outside presents too many variables for my sensitivities. I’m a huge wimp when it comes to cold weather. Also, I like to control elevation, speed and time, much better accomplished on a treadmill making the miles fly rather than crawl.

Therefore, I’ve had to come up with a new strategy for outside running, a mental plan for cold weather and hills my two biggest banes. So far, this is what I’ve learned.

The easiest to plan for is the cold. Wear layers. No stroke of genius. But for a flip flop girl, it takes some motivation. Convincing myself that I won’t turn into an ice cube if I just keep moving, and that I can drink something hot and yummy when I get done only takes a few words of encouragement to myself and maybe a warm up dance to a wild rock song - recently something by Red like "Breathe Into Me" (click HERE to jam w/me!).

Okay. But no amount of clothing is going to flatten those hilly sidewalks out there. What to do?

I found out that it’s a matter of focus.

Sometimes, like when I’m running downhill, fixing my gaze on a goal in the distance, a stop sign or a fence post or a driveway, helps me cope with any exercise-related discomfort making the jog pleasant and even fun.

Other times, like when I’m running flat or slightly elevated surfaces, paying attention to the path right in front of me, step by step, is the best way to keep me moving and ignoring heaving lungs. After a second, I look up to see that I’ve come farther than I expected.

And when I’m running uphill, I find it best just to close my eyes. For a pace or two at least. This way, I don’t obsess on how high or far or long the path is, which just psyches me out and defeats me before I begin. Rather I think of keeping my feet moving or breathing one breath at a time or even the sound of waking birds chirping in the tress. Eventually, I’ve obtained my goal.

Well, life is often described in terms of mountains and valleys, highs and lows, smooth stretches and rocky messes. As we traverse each kind of terrain (and we will), how do we attack it in a way that obtains the goal while getting as much as we can from the journey itself?

In other words, how can we live long and prosper in this hostile environment?

When few obstacles get in the way, when life is chugging along as we all believe it ‘should’ be, like running downhill, fixing our eyes on a goal far off is wise, right? Planning for the future, sowing in order to reap, reaching for that success or degree or reward, whatever the case may be. Focusing on long-term goals keeps us moving in that direction with confidence and strength.

But running downhill leads to the valleys, doesn’t it?

In the valley, the way may be flatter, but it’s darker there. Not as much sun reaches those depths. If you look up too much, all you see are mountains, the ones you aren’t on at the moment. During these times, focusing on the path in front of you will probably accomplish more, get you further, keep your attitude in check. The greener grass is probably in the valley anyway.

To get to the mountains, though, for that magnificent view and sense of conquer and victory, running uphill is required. It’s the toughest. It takes the most effort, puts the most strain on your system. At times, you are sure you can’t do it and even consider quitting. Sometimes, all you can do is close your eyes and will your feet to move up one after the other.

That’s called not losing heart.

God’s Word is full of promises for those individuals who do not lose heart, who don’t give up, who continue doing what they should even when it isn’t easy, who live by faith and not by sight.

He promises – one day you’ll look up and find out that you’re there, making every step worth the struggle.

Hope this encourages you to keep on trekking, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by