Preface: I wrote this piece before I heard the news regarding the Boston Marathon tragedy. This is a horrific and wicked thing. Our family prayed together for the families and people affected by this horror. I pray they are able to run again with joy and peace. That broken lives will mend. Please Lord, More Grace to them.
“Want a strong, solid relationship that is willing to go the distance? Get to know your running shoes.” –Dean Karnazes
How many pairs of running shoes have I owned? I have no idea! I wish I had kept track of the number of shoes I’ve worn out from the miles of pounding pavement and trails. If I had kept a folder of receipts from all those purchases and submitted copies of said receipts (with a sincere compliment for the brand) I may have won a free gift from ASICS footwear, the brand of running shoes that has been good to my feet for many years. Why change after 32 years of running!
I love to run. But I didn’t used to. In fact, there was a time I would avoid all exercise simply because I hated to sweat. Fast rewind. I had become an overweight and out-of-shape soccer mom who was always too busy with everyone and everything else to focus on my own physical needs. I realized that I needed to make a healthy change. With support from my encouraging husband and close friends to help with childcare, I was able to schedule a several hours each week to walk.
Eventually, the more I walked the better I felt…about everything. These daily walks became a rhythm for praying, listening to music or an audio book, and thinking about solutions to problems. Not only did I lose weight and drop pant sizes, but the “alone time” in walking made me a better wife, mother, friend, and leader.
After several months, the walking turned into “wogging” (which is a walking-jogging combination). I remember buying my first pair of ASICS around that time. After “wogging” for a while, I discovered I could run for a longer amount of time before stopping. Eventually, I was running 6 miles in an hour. My husband also started running and along with our children, we spent many a Saturday morning participating in family fun runs or 10K races.
Here are few things that have kept me sweating for the joy of running:
1. Take care of my feet. Wear quality running shoes. Understanding my personal pronation type is crucial to choosing the proper running shoes. Visit a retail sport store that specializes in running to receive the best advice regarding the right shoe.
2. Stay injury free! Practice right running techniques. After incurring repeated foot pain and knee injuries, I investigated how to run injury free and discovered the Pose Method of running, which focuses on mid-foot or forefoot strike versus heal-striking. I also had to practice the correct posture and learn how to run relaxed. I usually feel better after I run due to learning this technique. I’ve also seen a huge improvement in distance and speed when running on trails or grass with the Pose Method.
3. Run with a friend or join a running group for encouragement. Running with a friend or group keeps me accountable to a routine and motivates me to stay on a healthy running pace. Plus if I can hold a conversation while running, then it’s a good sign that I’m not running too hard (anaerobic) and can run longer and burn more fat (aerobic).
4. Select music with the right beat that matches my running cadence. I created several playlists featuring a variety of artists to keep my runs interesting and fun. I always run against traffic (facing cars coming head on) so I can move out-of-the-way of an on coming car. I don’t trust drivers to watch out for me so I don’t run with traffic. I always run with my cell phone.
5. Eat healthy and stay hydrated. I need energy (fuel) to run well and maintain hydration so I don’t burn out. When I eat healthy all of the time and drink plenty of water everyday, my runs are much easier and I feel energized after running. Sometimes, I’ll have a light snack before a morning run but always refuel after a run with a healthy meal or blend a kale-protein shake concoction (Really delicious! It’s all about the right ingredients.)
6. Take rest days. Go for a walk instead. It’s okay not to run everyday. In fact, rest is good for the body. Maintain core fitness, strength training and stretching also helps to keep me injury free. I enjoy listening to a podcast or “read with my ears” via Kindle/Audible.com while taking a long casual walk on the rest days.
7. Worship gives me pure joy while running. Many of the playlists I created are worship songs. Often times, I do not want to walk or run due to feeling blah or discouraged or the weather is cold and gray. This is when self-discipline is needed to lace up the running shoes and layer up to face the winter chill. Exercise is good to boost the endorphins and combine that with listening to praise music and worship songs elevate my heart to the right place of focusing on Jesus instead of the blahs. I do this for the joy of running…32 years of pounding the pavement and still counting!
Every physical, created pleasure is meant to serve a higher pleasure; the pleasure of God. –Paul David Tripp