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The first few times I pushed through a run with my knee and shin pains were frustrating; but now every time I feel the pain, I catch myself in a state of thankfulness. Maybe it’s related to the surplus of funerals and weddings I’ve attended in the last month, but lately I’ve been finding myself reflecting a lot on how quickly life’s circumstances can change and how blessed I truly am.
Oftentimes we can’t prepare ourselves for the insurmountable amount of pain or overwhelming joy we are about to experience, but we can determine the attitude we will have through it all. I’m choosing to be grateful despite my circumstances; the current being a state of injury and time away from running.
More than ever before, I am appreciating the small joys that come from running and the significant meaning it has in my life. It’s true that I’ve had a slight itch to run ever since I injured my leg a week ago. As I desired my morning run today, I had the revelation that my motive for running was greater than simply wanting to run. I yearned to experience and absorb the beauty of this gorgeous November day by immersing myself into the free reign of the trails and deep woods. I longed to hear the sound of my feet hitting the path along the lake, watching the sun reflect on the water and filling my lungs with the crisp near-winter air. I yearned for that hour in utter silence, except for the sound of an animal shuffling through the weeds or the leaves blowing in the wind.
Running has become so much more to me than just exercise
I bet a lot of runners may have started with a specific reason in mind such as losing weight or conquering a “bucket list” goal such as the marathon. I’d also imagine that most would agree that over time it evolved into something more for them than just exercise. Personally, running has provided a newfound appreciation for the beauty of creation. Over the past several months, beginning most of my days with a run has developed into a consistent, set time of solitude that I’ve grown accustomed to and been able to look forward to. Starting the morning on this note refreshes my soul, clears my mind and sets the overall tone for the rest of the day. This past week as I’ve been trying to resist the urge to run, I’ve noticed something stirring in my soul and the absence of the inner peace that I usually feel. I don’t think it’s just because I’m not getting my usual exercise, (in fact I still am by substituting alternative activities for running); I’ve pinpointed what I believe is the culprit: the lack of my time being most connected to our natural environment and having this set time of daily solitude.
Running my first marathon was a humbling experience I will cherish forever. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that my body and mind were capable of enduring an experience like this. It’s a miracle in itself that with my history of knee surgeries, I was able to complete both the intense training for the marathon and the marathon itself… injury-free. Besides, I could just as easily have been in a bad car accident that left me paralyzed or born with a disability similar to that of the many children I work with at the hospital. But I wasn’t and every day I need to bring myself back to the state of mind where I am genuinely appreciative and thankful for what I do have and what I can do.
All of the above being said, I am not by any means retiring from running. I’m still hopeful that I will be able to run another marathon and am scheduled to run Grandma’s Marathon in June 2012−in addition to various shorter races prior to that. I look forward to these opportunities, but in the meantime I am embracing the season that I am currently in. Because I do intend to put my body through further wear and tear from training and running another marathon, the importance of the rest and healing process is even greater. As I’m being challenged to take time that I would usually spend running and devote it to rest, I am determined to use it to rest my spirit too. Instead of being frustrated that I’m not able to run like I have been over the past several months, I am viewing it as an opportunity to learn more about myself and grow deeper in my relationship with our Creator. As I continue to learn what I can from this season, I will continue to remind myself to reflect on the greater purpose behind each and every one of my runs.