Thursday, March 16, 2017

Post 100: Figuring Out Where Running Fits Into My Life Right Now

Where does the trail lead?

This is my 100th blog post.  I have pondered several times what type of post this should be and what it should include.  Perhaps it should be a reflection on past race reviews, trail reviews, and athlete interviews.  Perhaps it should include major shout-outs to the three companies I am so privileged to be an ambassador for these past few years, (Sportland TeaBibRave.comThe Ginger People).  Perhaps it should be a meditation on God and the fact that He has so blessed me to run and enjoy His creation.  Maybe it should be a big thank-you to my wife and kids for putting up with me and allowing me to run so much!

My family, (minus our oldest!), in Wisconsin.

But, I have also wondered if I just need to write with more transparent and brutal honesty about my current struggles.  This past year has been hard for my family and I.  We have moved halfway across the country, (again), and I have started a new career.  My wife now has to work full-time.  The kids are getting older and involved in more things.  I am on my feet most of my work week and this has caused continual plantar fasciitis that only recently seems to be getting a little better, yet is an everyday issue I must address.  In addition, because I put a lot of energy into my work both physically and mentally, I often feel spent. My diet has also slidden from healthier times.

All of this means, that I need to relook at how running fits into my life and the lives of my family.  I don't make my own schedule anymore.  Time is way more limited than it used to be.  Running cannot take precedence over God, my family, or work.  Sometimes that is hard for me, especially when I feel like I am failing in my running compared to prior years.  

I need to accept that, at least for right now, the days of running 1000+ mile years and doing events longer than 13.1 miles or even a 25K, might be on hold.  Running has to fit around everything else, not everything else around running.  Some runners and athletes in other sports might fall over and die from reading that last statement...but I've always known that's true.  Sometimes I succeed at accomplishing it...and sometimes I don't.

Which one has more hair?

I have thought about just giving up running...but I know what will happen if I do...and the ramifications wouldn't be good.  Running cannot be more important than God, yet it draws me near to God.  Running cannot be more important than my wife and kids, yet, it often allows me a way to get out my stress so I am good to live with at home!  Plus, it has enabled us to see some pretty cool sights on various trips we have taken together.  It has also been a treat to run with my wife and kids from just around the block to local races to running and hiking in the mountains, something I hope to continue to do with them.  I have had some special moments I will remember with each of them as I saw them complete certain events. Running also cannot be more important than work, yet it allows me to be in good enough shape to meet the physical demands of my work and has done so for a long time.

So what does this mean for me going forward?  I need to make a commitment to God that He is first in everything.  I need to make a commitment to my wife and kids to not let running take away from our relationship but as much as possible only enhance it.  I need to figure out how to make running work with a varied and constantly changing schedule at both work and home.  I need to stop looking back and comparing where I am at to where I was, be happy for the past, learn from it, and move forward.

My 2 oldest atop Sacajawea, outside of Bozeman, MT, 2015.

I also need to be realistic, as I noted above about distances for races and the year.  As goal oriented as I can be, (and most runners are), maybe I have to let go of how much mileage I seek to accomplish in 2017 and instead, make the runs count for my health, my family, my ambassadorships, the races for which I am training, and finally growing in my relationship with God.  This, I believe can result in more joy.

I have often said, that as Americans, we are chasing the wrong thing when we chase happiness.  Happiness is like icing on a cake, it's sugar sweet, but not long lasting. is more like life blood.  It's something that courses deep within...from the soul.  That joy has to come from something outside of it that can fill it, and like the ancient scholar Augustine said, "Thous hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee."

Running cannot fill that hole in our souls.  Only God can do so. But, if He does, then running, and anything that shows forth His glory, can be an outworking of that joy. I want my running to be joyous.  Now, I am not naive, it will still be hard, tiring, and often lack joy at times, but less so, if I can put it back into proper perspective and in the right priority in life.

I am very thankful to Sportland Tea, BibRave, and The Ginger People for being able to represent each of them as a brand ambassador and for all their encouragement.

I am reminded of that joy every now and again when the theme song from the movie Chariots of Fire comes up on my old iPod Nano that I still run with for music and podcasts. One of the main characters in that film, Eric Liddell, was good at finding joy in his running while keeping priorities right in life. At one point, he turns to his sister who is chewing him out for putting running before everything else and forgetting his goal to be a missionary to China, and speaks these words...

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure."

Running right now feels more like a chore than a pleasure.  Again, I am not naive...running takes discipline and often does feel like a chore...but it does need to be an add-on in life, it cannot be life itself.  As an add-on, it should bring joy and benefit not just oneself, but others.  (This is why as a runner and race director, I have often sought to run/race/direct/organize for charity.)  I believe, that it should also, and even ultimately, give glory to God.  In short, running isn't just for ourselves...but ultimately must be for something outside of ourselves.  If not, then running is simply...narcissistic. Unfortunately, that charge could be leveled at myself as well as many a runner.

So, perhaps that's the root of my struggle.  Is my running narcissistic, or is does it have meaning outside of myself, can it bring joy not just to me, but others as well?

I am not sure right now, to be honest.  But I can take a step in the right direction right finishing this post as my half of my kids just came home and supper isn't going to jump on the table by itself.

This post is dedicated to my wife, whom I have been blessed with and love.

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