I am tired of people punishing themselves with exercise. You missed a shot in practice? Go run. You ate too much yesterday? Go run. Someone made a comment that ruined your self confidence? Go run. These are bad motives, but sometimes they work. They may get you out the door, but they also create a poor relationship with exercise that can affect you for years to come. I have laid out two scenarios below.
Before you read on, sit and think for a moment. Why have you found yourself on this website? What is your motivation to run? Acknowledge where you are mentally before you read below.
Type 1: You wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and you realize something isn't right. You see yourself differently and you become frustrated for eating too much sugar or for sitting down all day long. You don't like yourself and you know you need to make a change. You think back to junior high health class and remember that exercising could make you look better. You decide you want to look better, so you lace your shoes up and you are ready to get fit! And then you try, and it is miserable. You remember how much you hated running because growing up, it was always a punishment. From here, two things typically happen. You keep running just because you desperately want to "look better". Or you quit after the first try because everything about the experience was horrible. Have you been here? I know I have.
Type 2: You wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and thank God for the gift of life. You realize that he created you and gifted you with two moving legs. You understand that God organically created humans to move and you want to live with his intentions. You also desire a space to clear your mind and give the Spirit a place to speak. You lace up your shoes, ask the Father for safety and endurance, and head out the front door. As you run, you become winded and you feel weak. In that moment you stop, stretch your legs, take a breathe, and realize that his strength is carrying you through. You ask God for continued endurance and you eventually finish your run. You realize that your human body is capable of hard things because you rely upon a greater source of strength. As you look in the mirror, you see a fighter. You see a woman who has overcome physical adversity and can conquer anything she sets her mind to. You recognize your true source of strength and you are ready to take on whatever life may throw at you.
Both runners are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but the second runner is who we are striving to run like. No matter what the scale says or what your inner critic is telling you, you are capable because your heavenly father believes in you and he is your source of strength.
You may not recognize it yet, but running is a gift. The joy of running is like a small treasure hidden inside of a big box. You have to tear away layer after layer to find the hidden and unexplainable joy. It is hard to find, and many people give up before they find the treasure. The people who do sacrifice enough to find the treasure rave about it. They begin increasing their mileage and exercising often. They sign up for crazy races and tell all their friends and family about their new found love. They recognize that running is actually freeing! They don't run because it's a quick way to lose a few pounds, they run because it becomes a source of freedom. They use running as a connection point. They connect with themselves, with friends, and with their Father. Sometimes they run five miles and feel high on life. Other times they run five miles and it is all they can do to finish. But they remember the feeling of the hidden treasure, and they know it is worth it to keep fighting.
Ask yourself again, why do you want to run? The physical benefits that you may desire come with time, but let's not focus on them up front! As we recognize our true source of identity and strength, let's allow our mindset and intentions to shift.