Running As Worship

As an elementary school kid, the worst days were when we would run the mile in gym class. The gym teachers tried to ease us into the exercise. They would add one lap at a time to our warm-up jogs in the beginning of class, but nothing really seemed to make it any easier. To be completely honest, I don’t even know if I ran an entire mile in elementary school. By the second lap, I would always end up walking on the far end of the track, where my gym teacher could hardly see me. I remember another time when I actually started walking backwards on the track because I was trying to follow a little, white butterfly…

I don’t think I’ve ever actually met a kid who enjoys running. At the summer camp where I work, I think about 90% of the children complain whenever we do an activity that involves running, or even moving for that matter. I find it interesting now to see how some of my peers very much enjoy running while others despise it. I’ve wondered why some people love the sport and why others just can’t get into it.

Though I was a kid who hated running, I’ve grown into a person who loves it. I think this change occurred when running began to show me new opportunities. In elementary school gym class, running felt like torture because there was no purpose to it. It was never a competition and I certainly wasn’t seeing any results. When I started playing sports, however, I then looked at running as a means of conditioning. When I ran hard in practice, I saw how I could push myself in games as well. In high school, I saw the benefits of conditioning over the summer so that I could be faster and carry more endurance during the fall soccer season. During basketball season I would condition between practices in order to grow stronger and faster. Running was no longer purposeless. It opened doors for me. It showed me new paths.

In my adult life, a life in which I no longer play organized sports, I have struggled to run routinely. Just like an elementary school kid, I have been unmotivated to run because there seems to be no point. I quickly became a NARP (Non-Athletic Regular Person) and my well-being took a toll because of it. Without regular exercise I was moody and insecure. I wanted to get back into shape, but the thought of actually getting out and running was painful. I knew that running after a long period of irregular activity would be hard on my body, but I also knew that I’d never feel comfortable running again until I got over this tough transitional period.

The only way for me to get back into running was at very slow, regular intervals. My first few times out were at a snail’s pace and very short-lived, and I probably cried more than I sweated. What separates runners from non-runners is that runners know how to keep going. I wasn’t able to run any noteworthy distance at first, but over time I was able to build up stamina.

While I no longer run to condition for sports, I’ve found meaning in running because of what it brings to my life. Running is an outlet, a temporary escape from all the stressors of life. It gives me strength, and it teaches me to appreciate the body I’ve been given. Running is my worship, and I don’t ever want to stop.

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