Have you ever told yourself that you’re not something that you could be?
My whole life I’ve told myself, and anyone who mentioned the word, that I am not a runner. I’m not a runner because I don’t run. I don’t like to run. I don’t want to run. I’m not good at running. I don’t believe in a runner’s high.
I have run exactly 3 times that I can remember in my adult life. Two times, I accidentally showed up to my Kaia class (a fitness class) in Minden, Nevada, on a day that they were doing fitness testing. Those are the class days that I tried to avoid. And I am not the only one. I don’t need to be ‘tested.’ If I’m never tested, then I won’t know if I’m improving or not, and I can just continue to pat myself on the back for effort alone. So on two separate, unfortunate days, I found myself too far committed to the class to back out, and had to run one timed mile each of those days. It was awful.
The only other time I can recall running as an adult was actually since I’ve lived here in Tennessee. I ran my back pasture once, just to see how far the loop actually was. I wanted to know the distance in the off chance that one day I decided that I could actually run. But after running it, I realized that I don’t like running.
Readers, I am not a runner.
But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be one…
Here’s the deal, the longer I walk down this road of self discovery, the more I realize that true game changing, life altering, magical impact is really and honestly made- you guessed it- outside of your comfort zone. Impact is made- in your own heart, and in the hearts of others- when you do something that you would have thought you couldn’t do.
So as this life marches on, I eagerly search out ways to do things that stretch my normal and make me feel a little out of my element. Readers, I was not always so bold, I assure you. I used to find solace and joy in my comfort zone. My comfort zone was MORE than enough for me. Who was I to try to do something outside the box? Who was I to desire more than what I had already been so blessed with…
Well… Aren’t the very people who have made my life so comfortable and wonderful the very people who dared to live outside their comfort zones? If it weren’t for the people who fought for our country… or the man who discovered that we can, and should, have running hot water at our very finger tips… or the person who decided that chocolate should exist… I mean, true and life altering impact is always made by the very people who dare to be brave.
So when I ask, “who am I to be… whatever it is?” I have to stop and also ask…
“Who am I NOT to be the person who steps beyond…”
So in my pursuit to do the things that scare me just a little, I’ve become a REFIT instructor, which is dance fitness, because I’m not sure why. I took one class, and the teacher, a friend of mine, let the class know that there was an opportunity to become an instructor and suddenly I found myself with my hand in the air. My second REFIT class ever was the one the founders led the morning of the instructor class. The first class I taught in real life was a 90 minute charity event!
Do I sometimes find that my toe in the pool was actually a cannon ball in the deep end? Well, yes I do find that to be true sometimes. But do I always seem to land on a life raft? Always. If you look at it from the right angle…
All this to say, when my friend- a seasoned marathon runner- suggested I sign up to run a half marathon with her, the answer was a quick and final ‘anothankyou.’ She knows I am not a runner. She knows that I don’t want to be a runner. But she also knows that I do crazy things.
Well, the week after she asked me, God suggested to me that perhaps I should consider it. Okay, if you know God, you know He doesn’t suggest… He convicted me. So I begrudgingly- seriously begrudgingly- told my friend that I would do it. She was surprised, but not as surprised as I was to have spoken such ridiculous words.
But I am a person of my word. Or at least I strive to be. I think it’s important.
And so as many times as I’ve thought up perfectly logical reasons to back out of this commitment- not the least of which being that I hadn’t even signed up for the dang thing yet- I stand today, committed.
Not because I want to become a runner or even because I think I’ll enjoy it- all you runner friends of mine keep saying I will, but I’m not at all convinced- but because I’ve told myself for so long that I wasn’t a runner.
Like I said, it’s not that I can’t run. It’s just that I’ve never tried. It annoys me when people develop an opinion, firm as can be, about something they’ve never walked out, something they’ve never learned about or even tried. So if I’m going to live the rest of my life telling myself and others that I am not a runner, it’s going to be AFTER I run myself a half marathon.
It could have been a 5K. I realize that that might have been a more logical place to start. Or maybe even a 10K. But you know what… that wouldn’t stretch me. That wouldn’t require much. I needed to set a goal that would require commitment to reach. Because I don’t know about you, but I can always use some practice flexing my faith muscle. I haven’t one time found a better way to teach my kids about commitment and integrity other than walking it out.
And funny enough, today as I started to train officially, I was tempted to make excuses. As a matter of fact, I was supposed to start running on Saturday, and then Tuesday… and so as the day was slipping by today, I was well aware that I could just push it off again. If you know me, you know that I don’t like to start things on any day other than a Monday. But I also know that the hardest part of any journey- not the least of these, a half marathon- is the first step.
So I laced up my shoes, and I put on my head phones, and I became a runner today.
I ran 1.66 miles.
I know that doesn’t sound like much- or maybe it does- but let me tell you what… it’s the first 1.66 miles I’ve ever run in my life that had intention behind it. I’m following a 20 week plan that promises to take me from a non-runner to half marathon ready, and today was meant to be 1.5 miles. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
So I started.
And as I was rounding the bend on that back pasture, thinking about how blessed I felt to have a body that works and a pasture this beautiful… I was thinking about how blessed I felt to be a runner… I saw my little blonde 4 year old boy running towards me. His eyes lit up when he saw me, and he waved and picked up his pace.
“Hey buddy,” I said, as he changed directions to run along side me. I pulled one of my ear phones out of my ear so I could hear him.
“I want to run with you, mom.”
How many people are waiting for you to start running? How many people are just waiting for YOU to get started?
Merit and I ran another lap around- about a mile more- together. And he kept my pace the entire time. Neither of us stopped running. And this was in the middle of a Tennessee springtime day. It was hot. I was tired. We were sweaty. He has poison ivy on his butt for crying out loud… this was not an easy thing for either of us.
“This is hard, mom,” he must have said half a dozen times.
“It’s worth it, buddy.”
It was hard. That’s true. But it was worth it. Not because I liked it when it was done- well, I DID really like when it was over- but because I had started. I had started the journey that would lead me into the land of ‘I didn’t think I could.’ And although I’m eager to see what will come of this journey over the next few months, now that I’m a runner- because I’m pretty sure it happens that quickly; I’m a runner now, it’s official, me and my 1.66 miles! But I’m more excited to see what those little eyes will witness as I make this journey.
If you could see yourself through the tiny eyes that watch you… what would you see?
The eyes might belong to YOUR kids. They might be those of a niece or a nephew. Maybe you’re a teacher or a pastor. Maybe it’s a neighbor kid. The question is the same. If you could see yourself through the tiny eyes that watch you… what would you see?
I know what I’d like the answer to be… so I know where the bar is set.
True, game changing, life altering, magical impact is really and honestly made outside of your comfort zone. I know that this is true. And so for the next 20 weeks in the very least… that is where you’ll find me. I’ll be running. God help me. And I’ll be uncomfortable. That I know. But they’ll be watching. So I’ll be putting on a good show.
I am not a runner.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t be one…