People who have known me for some time often ask me “Are you still running?” And thankfully by the grace of God, I can still answer, “Yes, I am.” With the warmer weather I have been celebrating my deliverance from the confines of the tread mill to once again enjoy the exhilaration of running outside.
Spring running always reminds me of the start of track season back in my high school days when our early conditioning took us out on the streets of our town for long runs. There was something so invigorating about the freshness in the air and the unfurling of ones limbs in an every lengthening stride, after being cooped up all winter.
It was like being transported back in time again for me this past Monday as I set out on one of my 5-6 mile loops that takes me along the paths and streets of my neighborhood. The spring wind, the sidewalk cracks blurring beneath my feet and bright sunshine ushered me right back to Breckenridge, Minnesota and 1960. It was a Back to the Future moment.
It was then that it dawned on me that I have been running for 50 years. Oh my, that realization brought me right back to the plains of Blaine and 2010! I have always kept a record of the miles that I run. One of the goals I had in my forties was to one day log a total of 25,000 miles that would be the equivalent of running around the world. Fifty years of running have now taken me a virtual nearly 1 ½ times around the globe.
Running for me though, has always been much more that just the physical exercise; although that in and of itself is very beneficial. (1 Timothy 4:8) Because it is something that I really enjoy, it has more importantly been a source of mental, emotional and spiritual renewal. I’ve found that when I have been engaged in high demand activities, especially for long periods of time, that my mental and emotional reservoirs readily become depleted. It’s then that my gauges redline and I find myself feeling grouchy, irritable, tired and /or depressed. Time for a break! Escaping the phone, email, to-do lists and a stack of unfinished business on my desk and embarking on a run replenishes me like nothing else. It provides me time to think, to be creative, to commune with nature, to explore, to pray and to renew.
The words of Jesus always resonate with me in this regard. When His disciples were so beset with meeting the needs of those around them and so busy that they did not even have time to eat, He said to them, “Come ye yourselves apart . . . and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31) I love that. Jesus is saying in essence, “Either come apart and rest awhile or you’ll simply come apart.” He is underscoring here the need for times of personal renewal. True rest is not the cessation of all activity. It is ceasing to do the things that drain us and instead doing the things that replenish us. Now obviously a key point Jesus is making here is that true rest and renewal comes in setting aside time to be alone with Him.
Running is all that for me. What are your “come apart and rest awhile” activities that renew you? It is so essential for each of us that we discover what those replenishing activities are and then frequently retreat to them.