Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Running Perspectives

This Christmas, in a rare moment of optimistic abandon, I declared: "Just you wait, in 2015, I will be a fitness freak!", to which my brother lovingly replied, "well, you're half way there."

So in an attempt to get fully "there", when January rolled around I dragged myself in to a gym.

I had been very depressed for the majority of the previous year, but having transferred to a new variety of pills I was determined to give myself another prescription: exercise. People say it's good for you.

The lime-green clad instructor in January's Gym was genuinely befuddled to be speaking to a 30 year old who had never been in to (or really even near to) a gym- and yet was still by some inconceivable miracle apparently alive. He even checked my pulse. Sure, he said it was procedure, but I really think he had his doubts; he would have prodded me with a stick if he'd had one to hand...   But once I had completed my induction (the humiliation of explaining that yes he did need to explain the basics of the treadmill but no he didn't need to nervously watch my mile long walk on it because no I wasn't expecting a heart attack any time soon despite what the blood pressure monitor may have said), I began a fairly successful exercise routine.

Five months later, I completed my first 10k race. Hurray!

Granted, I was beaten by a woman who looked about a hundred, pretty much all of the men and what appeared to be a Quidditch team (they were running astride home-made brooms and carrying a hoola hoop on a stick). But on crossing the line I nonetheless felt a huge sense of gratitude for the achievement.

And I think I felt it not because of how far or fast I ran, but because of the distance covered to get running in the first place.

God's kindness was at work in overcoming a range of obstacles long before I met the man in green:

- laziness/ perfectionism/ cynicism and a host of other character flaws
- natural lows in energy
- the idea that exercise is for the slim/ beautiful
- the prospect of an interview with someone who might assume if you haven't "gymed" before you must be as good as dead
- trips to the doctor to get on the right medication to make anything other than being in bed seem like a worthwhile option
- persistent and harsh self condemnation
- low self image (not aided by a) Lycra or b) those people who are so happy in Lycra they seem to go to the gym mainly to admire their Lycrafied reflections. Apparently calories burn better watched.)

So I am grateful to have crossed the line. And I am sure there are many who crossed the line way (waaaaay) ahead of me who also beat a vast range of unseen obstacles. And there will be people at the gym, maybe running more slowly than me, who will have overcome- be overcoming- far more than I ever will to get there. And it is God who gives them grace to do so.

Am I then a fitness freak? No.  My main thought when I am running tends to be: 'why am I running?' (which is why it was nice to have the race interruption of, 'is there really a hoola hoop in Quidditch?'). 

But I am grateful to have experienced the truth of 1 Timothy 4:8- there is value in physical training; a value that comes from our Father.

The value doesn't have to come from running the fastest or furthest: the value comes in a way that the calorie machines don't count- it comes in the times and ways God's hand of grace got me out of bed, down to the doctors, over the condemning lies, the anxieties, myself... and on to the treadmill. Even if it was just for one nervous mile.

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