If you’ve been here any amount of time you know I’m a runner. The word can describe me in several different ways, but today I’m referring to the activity or the sport of running. It’s where I stumbled upon so many things: myself, heartache, and dreams I never knew I had. I’ve been running for fifteen years and when asked about my faith, I usually say I found God in the street.
Somewhere in the middle of a thousand miles I stumbled upon the goodness and grace of a God who wouldn’t let me go.
For me, it was the most unlikely place. Never an athlete growing up, I was raised in a Christian home and I already thought I knew Him. Turns out I really didn’t. So for the last fifteen years I’ve been running. To health, to life, to wellness, to dreams. Running, to faith.
But if I’m telling the whole truth, the last three years of running have been hard. Really hard. I completed an Ironman three summers ago and haven’t been able to run more than four miles since that day. Something broke in me, somewhere, somehow. I was tired and sore after the race of course, but this was different. It was like my mind never stopped loving it, but my body did. On a good day, it was hard. Many days it felt nearly impossible.
Gone were the days of running effortlessly out the door to the stillness of sound and the solitude of the street. For three years I willed myself through every mile and walked when I couldn’t run. There was no speed, endurance, stamina or drive. Every step was hard. But I continued to go. I continued to get outside and put one foot in front of the other, accepting that for now running was just plain work.
But the last week I’m seeing a breakthrough. My speed is returning. My energy is growing. I’m pushing myself farther and faster than I have in years. I was running last week when I had the sudden realization that it wasn’t feeling hard anymore. Just this morning I added a few hill sprints at the end of a run to finish strong. Walking back to the cabin I was literally drenched in sweat, dripping off my body.
My husband looked at me and in the moment between our silent stare he knew: It was a good run.
Nothing compares to the feeling of your heartbeat, cadence, breath, and footfalls all working together in sync. Rhythm and timing. Years ago I read the book: Born to Run. It taught me the mantra: light, easy, smooth, fast. For the last three years I haven’t been able to feel any of these adjectives – but I knew they were there. Somewhere. Maybe residing within someone else. But today: Today they were mine. Today they broke through.
Maybe you’re waiting for a breakthrough.
Maybe you’re ready to give up or you already did ten miles back. Start again. Lace up your shoes. Get yourself out of bed, out the door, down the street. Go. Every day and again, even when the miles are tough. Perhaps especially then. Sometimes the miles are just hard and there is nothing else to show for it but that you went. Some days all you have is the seemingly insignificant fact that you’re still going and you don’t really know where or why. But when you push through the hard long enough, you will eventually find your strength. You will have a breakthrough.