The Rebirth of a Runner

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens.

      I enter the winter season with optimism. In November I begin collecting gear—headbands, gloves, thermal leggings. I fully believe that I will run the entire winter, that nothing but a full-out blizzard will keep me off the trails. In December I enjoy a few runs, but the holidays slow me down. Life gets busier, and I’m left to choose between running or studying, running or sleeping, running or snuggling up by the fire with a hot cocoa between my frozen fingers.

      At this point my runs have already begun decreasing. My muscles have lost their tone, and I have lost my interest. I forget how difficult it is to run in freezing temperatures—how much harder it is to suck in full breaths of air, how my quadriceps and hamstrings tighten because they are unable to keep warm enough.

      In January and February I take time off—not because I’ve chosen to, but because I just haven’t been able to push through the cold. It’s easier not to run. I am defeated. I tell myself that I am too weak to run in the winter, that I was never much of a runner at all.

      In the spring I am born again. I am given another chance. When the earth warms and the sun begins sticking around for longer and longer each day, I am encouraged to get back out there. I am eager, even, to slip my shoes back on and to relearn the trails I had known in the fall.

      My first few steps are energizing. I could go for miles, I tell myself. It feels so good to breathe in the spring air, to smell the dewy grass. I smile at the other joggers, walkers and movers on the paved path. They have found the trails again too. We are excited to inhabit our bodies once again, to pretend that the winter season never happened.

      But after a while my breaths become shallow. My legs are already cramping up. My body is not used to this type of exertion, and I have to cut my run shorter than expected. I realize it will take a few runs before I build up my stamina.

      Suddenly I am beating myself up for my lack of will to run in the winter, for it has made it more difficult to find my legs again. But the truth is that I am not meant to move all of the time. There is a time to run and a time to rest. The seasons we cycle through are a gift, and my lack of grace keeps me from enjoying each season for what it is.

      In the spring I am forgiven. I am no longer weighed down, no longer thwarted by my own thoughts. I am free to move, free to run, free to be.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

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