Running sucks sometimes. Your shins, calves, thighs, ankles, and even pinky toes start to hurt and your pace starts to slow. Grimacing and grunting helps for a bit, but eventually you feel pain somewhere on your body with every step. Even though you were only intending to run a couple miles, you start thinking of different, shorter routes you could take just to stop the pain. Pressing on is suddenly not an option.
When I ran 3.7 miles the other day, this was my mindset. My asthma had kicked up when I didn’t think it would, my knees were throbbing, and a shock of pain went up my shins with every step. Plus it was a little warmer than I was used to. And then some mosquitoes flew in my mouth. All around, it wasn’t a fun run.
And then I ran the Butte to Butte this morning. I have never done a 10k before and was nervous and excited about the whole experience. I was also freezing. I had expected something closer to summer weather this morning, so I was wearing my running shorts and a t-shirt. No jacket. No Under Armor. Short shorts and a t-shirt. That was it. And since it was so cold, I started thinking that those painful spots I had experienced two days ago would resurface and I would have a miserable Fourth of July morning. Thankfully, I was wrong.
If you’ve never run the Butte to Butte (or if you’ve never heard of it), the first mile is almost entirely uphill. For a while, it’s not very difficult. But right about three-fourths of the way through that first mile is when it gets steep. Very steep. Even though I was running, I felt as though I was walking. It was such a challenge that I had focused on nothing else except for leaning into the hill and taking shorter strides. I was so consumed with the hill that I forgot all about my asthma, knees, and pesky mosquitoes. I just wanted to get to the top.
As it turns out, I also didn’t notice my heels were bleeding. No, I don’t think they were bleeding in that first mile, but they definitely were for my last mile, which was my fastest. What I found strange, though, was that I didn’t feel the pain at any point of the race. My shoes were digging my skin open and I didn’t feel it until I had gotten home and had seen the blood. The race had consumed every bit of my attention to the point where I felt no pain.
In my last post, I talked about pushing myself this summer. I think I realized in my run this morning what happens when you do push yourself. Whatever fear, pain, or guilt you might have been feeling before suddenly disappears. It becomes irrelevant. You’re so focused on passing the next person or the next mile or sprinting the final 30 or 40 feet that all your previous runs and however well you did or didn’t do go out the window. What matters is the road in front of you. It’s the only thing that matters.
Even though running may suck sometimes, it’s best to keep going, especially if it hurts. No, I don’t mean keep running on a broken leg, but rather keep going even when painful things happen. Keep running especially when your marriage might be falling apart or a loved one just passed away or if you feel like no one truly cares about you. Keep running even if it hurts – even if you’re bleeding.
Living the lives God has called us to live was never meant to be easy. Jesus says there will be difficulties if we follow Him and that we might even die. But if you’re really focused on what God wants you to do (or focused on finding what God wants you to do), then you might reach a point where you could run farther and faster than ever before without ever noticing the blood on your shoes.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33