At the end of this year (which is now just over a month away! where did 2016 go?), one of the things I will express the utmost gratitude for is overcoming injury and getting back on the road to run each week.
Prior to injury, I was running steadily, easily logging 20+ miles each week, to train for various races, usually doing short- and long-distances to prepare for half-marathons, my absolute most favorite races to run! But when injury happened, I had to take a major step back. For awhile, I couldn’t run at all, so I had to find other ways to get my heart pumping and all the junk out of my body. Following that, I had to ease into a mix of activities with less focus on running, and more focus on cross-training to get my strength and tone in check. And then after two full years, I was able to start running more frequently, but with full acceptance of my limitations (i.e. listening to my body. not overdoing it. taking breaks for as long as needed from running, or any physical exercise for that matter, to encourage healing).
Now over three years since injury, I’ve been completely healed of the stress fracture in my heel and aside from dealing with some mild tendonitis here and there, I’m pretty much back on the road full-time (that’s 3 days per week for me) with strength-training on my “no run” days. Hallelujah!
I know that in the grand scheme of life, three years is not really that long of a time. But when you’re not able to do the one thing you want to do, the one thing that really makes you feel empowered and confident and like nothing else on earth, and you’re just waiting to be able to do it again (and honestly, wondering if you’ll ever be able to do it again), three years is a LONG time!
I really do believe that God allows things to happen in our lives for a reason and purpose. Although there were times where I couldn’t see it, I can look back now and see what God has done through this up and down journey of healing and working my way back to the sport I love. By not running for a time, God gave me time and space to work on and eventually complete my eBook. He gave me the courage to try new ways of exercise, some of which I very much disliked and others of which I have a much deeper appreciation for (biking and yoga, in particular). And the biggest thing He gave me was a reset in priorities. Admittedly, there was a time when running was life to me. It took first place over a lot of things. I focused too much on getting my runs in and what I was eating / expending in calories and the size of my clothes and how far I could go in one training run. The scale was tipped too far on the negative side and it cost me some very important things I could have used in that season. But I didn’t see it then. And I really do believe that the only way He could make me see it, was by allowing me to break so He could put me back together again, making me into the runner girl He really wants me to be.
These days, I run for the love of running. Although I aim to run three days per week, that doesn’t always happen, and I’m okay with it. I listen to my body and take breaks when needed. And when I’m on the road, I’m not thinking about pushing myself to further distances and extremes, but about the pure joy I have in my heart that I get to do this running thing. I’m just so grateful for the ability to use my body in this way and to reap the benefits of a good, hard exercise. It’s awesome!
I’ve enjoyed doing a few races this year and getting back out there with the local running club in town. The one very cool thing about running is that it has a way of really bringing people together. As much as I love to run on my own out here in the country, I also very much appreciate the opportunity to gather with those of diverse backgrounds, ages, shapes, and sizes, putting our bodies in motion because it’s simply something we love to do. Running has a uniting power – it cuts across the things that set us apart and brings us together in a way that not many other things can do in this day and age.
My encouragement for you today, friends, is that if you find yourself in a situation like I did where something you love has been taken away, lean into the discomfort and be open to what God is working out as you wait for Him to either bring it back or reveal something new. Let yourself be surprised by what God will do in your heart and life as you trust Him with the timing and details of your particular situation. And when He brings you through to the other side, REJOICE and PRAISE HIM for how far He’s brought you and the things He’s taught you. Let it be an opportunity to bring Him glory and share His redemption story in your life with the world.
That’s where I’m at with this whole running thing these days. I do it because I can and because I love it. And because this story God has written in my life through running on the road has inspired me to keep running after God, chasing Him and His plans for my life.