Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thoughts from the open road

This morning I went running. But this wasn't any old run. It was not my typical daily or even Saturday run. Today my running buddy, Brenda, and I decided to go to Oklahoma City and run with our running club: the Landrunners. They were taking a route along the river near downtown OKC. If you were training for the full marathon this fall (Route 66 in Tulsa), then you were supposed to run 10 miles. And if you were working toward a half marathon, then you were to run five. So how far did we run? 8 miles. Why? I have no idea. I think because Brenda told me to. And so I did.

For the first four miles we did something else that's different for us. We ran with headphones instead of talking. I wanted to get my pace down without worrying about my breathing, so we went with music for the first half. We ran well, too! And oh my gosh, the temperature! It was 65, people! It felt like winter compared to the horrible heat we've had lately! And so we ran. Like the wind. And we only stopped to get a drink at the 2 1/2 mile mark. But then something happened.

When we hit the 4 mile mark, we turned around. And we had this beautiful breeze blowing on us. The sun was just coming up (we crazy runners start early, people.). And I saw that view. The one you see up there? That's it. It was quiet, and calm, and chilly, and all the wonderful things that a good run are. And I so I began thinking of you, dear reader! And I began thinking of all the things that I want you to know about the sport of running. Because I want other people to love it, too!

So here they are, in no particular order.

1. When you run, especially in a group like that, you realize that runners come in all shapes and sizes. And you can't stereo-type anyone. Like, don't even think that the chubby woman in front of you will eventually be behind you. YOU NEVER KNOW. And likewise, you may find a stick thin woman or man ahead of you and you assume they will beat you the whole time and suddenly you're passing them! YOU! PASSING THEM! Who knew?! So throw all those misconceptions you have about the typical runner out the window. And get out there. You can do it!

2. Runners who realize the above concept are the ones who will cheer you on the most. There is an unspoken idea out there on the open road that tells you in your gut as you pass someone who is clearly struggling, ENCOURAGE THEM! And even if you're not that person, you will become that person! And you will find yourself asking sidelined runners if they need help. And cheering the older lady who looks exhausted to KEEP GOIN' GIRL! YOU'VE GOT THIS! Because you understand. When you get to the finish line in your first race, and you're spent because you've never imagined doing this before and here you are doing it, you will hear this amazing thing! People you don't know and never will, will be cheering you on!! And suddenly you will understand fully the need to sometimes be the cheerer because you've certainly needed cheering at some point.

3. Runners have many forms. You will spend your entire running career wondering if your form is funny. And whether people look at you and think you look like Lisa Kudrow from Friends, running with your arms flailing! But guess what? WHO CARES? Get in a race and look around! Some people shuffle. Some kick their heels high! Some have their arms out, and other tuck them near their armpits. Some runners jump side to side, and others look like they are one step away from falling flat on their face. It doesn't matter! THEY ARE NOT SITTING ON THEIR COUCHES! They are working their heart muscles! And that's all that really matters, people! Keep it in perspective. Your form is YOUR FORM. If it took you 8 miles, or 3 miles, or one mile, it took you somewhere! Rejoice! You have legs! And you CAN RUN!

4. The last thing I want to say is that the hardest part of running is the actual getting out there to do it. Take your time. Know that you won't be a marathoner until you've trained for many months. And give yourself a break. You don't have to be the best. Or the fastest! You just have to do it. And then you'll find what I've found. That running is a release. It's where I get to toss my worries (and sometimes my anger!) off to the side of the road and keep going. My body always feels better. My mind always has better perspective afterward. I JUST FEEL BETTER after a good run. And the best part? It doesn't have to be a banner run for me to feel better. It can be a plain old crappy run... and I still have a lighter mood and a happier heart. Some of my best times with Jesus have been on a run, by myself... just asking for wisdom and peace.

And He always delivers.


  1. Quite often I've had flashbacks to high school gym class and having to run the mile in what felt like under 30 seconds. Never did it, always walked, always shrugged at my gym teacher as he gave me that disappointed look year after year. Last year though, after many years of smoking and not exercising, foot surgery and recovery...I joined the gym! Really never thought I'd have the desire to run, let alone the courage to even try in front of other people but I did, a little at a time during my walk on the treadmill. Every time I did though, I became very self conscious, tensed up and couldn't I stopped. Avoided the gym for 2 weeks. Found this post on your blog, got over myself, went to the gym today and low and behold...guess who can run without dying!! I had convinced myself that the reason I couldn't breath was ALL because I smoked, come to find out most of it was in my head and the more I relaxed and thought about your blog post, the better I could run. Definitely not a marathoner yet, but definitely going to work on that. Thank you for writing this on your blog, it sounds silly, but your words may very well have changed part of my life.

    1. That. is. awesome. Really!! I'm humbled that my words could be used to help someone I don't even know... At least I don't think I do. :) Keep it up, friend! And to be perfectly honest, please know that's never ran an entire mile in my life til I was 24! Also, I gave up running while I was bearing children and raising little ones. I began half marathon training as a 37 year old woman. So if I can do it, I know anyone can!! Congrats on your run today! Keep it up!