Monday, June 22, 2015

Morning Mileage

As spring transitions to summer, our miles are steadily increasing. For the third year in a row, Jamie and I committed to running the Marine Corps Marathon for Nuru International. In 2013, I can remember making the decision to sign up, more because I believe in Nuru than because I wanted to run 26.2 miles, and then, once I signed up, I knew I had to get serious about training. I had not been exercising consistently (beyond walking Jamie to and from work), and I couldn't really remember the last time I had run. So I went out that same evening, and tried to run as far as I could, but very slowly. I think I ran about 5 miles at a 13.5 minute pace. My feet hurt, and I was utterly exhausted.

Steadily as the summer progressed, my body began to wake from its slumber, and by the day of the race, I felt ready to run 26.2 miles. What helped me get ready was having an amazing training partner. Jamie and I ran together. We trained together. We prepared together, and we ran 26.2 miles. We didn't set a world record, but we did enjoy every moment of encouraging each other on those days when one or the other of us didn't feel like running. AND, we enjoyed being able to celebrate with approximately 30,000 other people (and about 30 Nuru runners), the discipline and determination that led us to running a marathon.

There are a wide variety of activities we can fill our limited time with, and not all of them are good. For me and Jamie, the last three years of running have been a really good thing. We get quality time together, we can pray together for friends and family, and we both feel like we are becoming more healthy as a result of going after the goal of a marathon. Even on mornings where we had to get up before daylight to beat the heat, we found we had more energy and were able to enjoy the rest of the day more than anticipated after waking up at 430AM. Before 2013, I never had aspirations of running a marathon. I wasn't sure if I could be disciplined enough to do it. But I could. And likely, so could you.

You see that's the really crazy thing to me. For most people, what it comes down to is self-discipline. You must be willing and able to plan and take steps toward achieving the goal. Most people, even serious athletes, probably can't just run out the door and crank out 26.2 miles without getting hurt. As Jamie and I were running recently, we were talking about the fact that many of our friends probably consider us runners because, well, we run. But when I think about runners, I think about people like my sister and brother-in-law. I think they run six days a week--they enter races at least twice a month. Jamie and I focus on three days of running each week--just enough to be able to build up to run a marathon.

It takes discipline to get there, but there are little rewards along the way, especially if you can run with your spouse or a close friend. Aside from that reward, there's the reward of quiet and an opportunity to explore and appreciate the world around you in ways you might not if you were sitting in a car (or a house). I took the photo at the top of this blog while running on the rail trail in Morgantown West Virginia. There was nobody out there. We saw deer, rabbits, and chipmunks, and we were also able to listen to a variety of birds. We were between a major roadway and the river, and all we could see was the path ahead, and the beauty of creation. I don't mind seeing people along the way too, but there was something nice about being out early with Jamie, carrying a Camelbak filled with three liters of water, and seeing nothing but the trail extending beyond us.

May we take the time to wake up early and get out there and move. Our body, mind, and spirit will thank us for making the time.

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