I’ve had a love-hate relationship with exercise for years.
I go through seasons of enjoying it, craving it and going hard after it, but then there are seasons where, well, not so much.
The last two years have been one of those seasons.
Yes, I know.
Deep down, I long to run. I’ve always envied women who seem to just effortlessly glide along, breathing easy like it’s no big deal and looking so stinkin’ healthy.
That’ll never be me.
At least that’s what I’ve said to myself, resigned to just settle for this life of walking when I wish I was running. Because I just can’t run.
Oh, I’ve tried. I even ran a mile straight and competed in a fun run once five years back.
But that momentum dwindled and faded and for the last two years, nearly each workout has brought disappointment and a sense of failure, like I know I should do better. Like my body is screaming for something more.
I want to run.
But it’s hard. And I’m out of shape. I lack discipline. I’m too fat. I’m too old. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse.
So there I was at the YMCA last week, ready to settle in to another ho-hum, I’m-too-weak-to-push-it treadmill walk. My commitment was low at best. In fact, the only reason I went was because my 3-year-old wanted to go play with his friends in childcare.
Just as I was going through my usual self-talk of ‘it’s okay, you’re just not what you used to be’ speech, my peripheral vision caught the woman next to me.
She was running.
And my heart just wanted to run.
Oh, sweet heavens , I just wanted to run with this runner.
So I kicked up the speed on the treadmill, thinking I’d do my usual ‘run a couple of minutes then slow it back down to a walk because I’m dying’ routine.
I was fully aware of this runner’s presence the entire time, observing her steady pace and ease. I could feel my energy start to fade as breathlessness took over and my conviction that I just can’t do it started to set in. I slowed down to walk, but my heart just wouldn’t let go.
My very spirit just wanted to run.
I argued with myself. “You’re not strong enough. You’re out of shape. You won’t last. You’re too fat. You look like an idiot. You sound like a herd of cattle. You can’t do it.”
But the sight, sound and mere presence of this runner right beside me woke up another voice.
“What if you try? What if you slow down to a pace you can sustain and just go with it? You say you want to run, so dangit girl, run!”
So I did. I kept running. And as the minutes passed, I couldn’t believe it.
I. Was. Running.
It felt incredible. Unbelievable.
My legs were moving, but it was like a supernatural force was carrying them. For my entire workout. For the first time ever.
I just knew I could keep going. For the first time in my life, I knew, as in had knowledge of, that I could run.
My unsuspecting neighbor had no idea what she was driving.
She had no idea that the sound of her feet hitting the belt at a steady pace, the peripheral visual of her arms moving in consistent strong form kept me going. She was just doing her thing. She had no idea anyone was paying attention.
She had no idea that because of her, in that first small, seemingly insignificant glance, I was inspired to run. That I dared to believe I might be able to run. And that I realized I could run.
Happy tears threatened to spill as I realized the significance of this moment of freedom to do the very thing my heart longed to do but had been holding back from since junior high track.
I can run. I don’t just wish I could run. I really can run.
And my life will never be the same.
In that moment, I understood the simplicity of some things that mere minutes before had seemed so out of reach.
If you want to run, you need to run.
If you want to run, you need to run with other runners.
If you’re going to run, other people will notice you. And want to run with you.
And I realized how many areas of my life that this concept applies to.
My marriage and parenting, ministry work and personal growth and daily life in general, all these things I wish I could do in all those spheres – I can do them.
That thing that you wish you could do?
Just do it. (Wow, Nike really has something here.)
That person you wish you could be?
Just be her.
There’s no reason to settle for less when your heart, your very soul, longs for more.
One thing that I’ve come to know is that if you long for more, it’s because you are meant to have it.
We are meant to have life and life abundant.
Those soul-level desires we have? Those are planted within us because they are our destiny.
I’m supposed to run.
And not just on the treadmill.
And so are you.
And we’re not just talking about running.
What areas of your life are you holding back in?
What’s that thing that you want to do?
Who’s that person you wish to be? What would it be like if you just … run?