Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 76 - The Day Running Broke Me

Distance and pace are insignificant here, just know that I didn't meet my goal for today. But something important did happen.

Today was a beautiful day in Baltimore, and I was excited to run. I headed out toward the airport, where there is a paved trail that circles the airport grounds. It's about 12 miles around, so I planned to run the full circle and then do an out-and-back on a portion of it to get in my full miles. I was excited, too, because I'd be running with GU for the first time.

Other than a few sore muscles from yesterday's Pilates class, I started off feeling good about running. Still, I was struggling to keep target pace. In fact, I was struggling to stay in the 9:15-9:30 range, which is a good 15-30 seconds slower than where I normally run for long runs. This was disheartening and compounded by some lower GI issues and some side cramping. I pressed on. Then, everything sort of fell apart.

I felt like I didn't know where I was or that I'd taken a wrong turn. I was winded. I couldn't pick up my pace. I was lonely. I didn't want to be running anymore. Eventually, the melodramatic side of my brain convinced the rational side that I was lost (on a circular trail, mind you) and that I would never make it home, or at least that the sun would set before I could make it back to my car. And I was despondent.

But only for a moment, because I soon realized how ridiculous (and wrong) it was that I was so upset about not getting in the miles I'd planned. It would be okay to be disappointed about that, because it's kind of a bummer; but I felt like a failure. Not just a failure as a runner, but a failure. That was when I knew that somewhere in the last few weeks, especially since I'd started upping my mileage, running had become something I didn't want it to be -- a priority above the rest, a god, an idol. It began to define me, and I began to derive from it a sense of self-efficacy that should only come from an identity sure in the Lord.

I sat down on a bench, regrouped and prayed, and continued on. I was still feeling directionally challenged, but I was able to pick up my speed a bit. I thought I might be able to make it the full miles I'd intended, but then I realized that the point of my miserable run's lesson was that my greatest discipline and obedience be rightly placed, not misplaced toward running. I'm not to be mastered by running, because in the end it's just another thing that I do.

So, I stopped. And tomorrow, with my priorities better placed, I will finish the mileage.

1 comment:

  1. Leslie, your honesty in this post is so refreshing, and I can definitely relate. Running became an idol for me last summer. I became prideful and put tons of time and energy into following my training plan daily to the mile ... until everything fell apart. I was really angry for a long time about my injury, but I figured out a couple things. First of all, God didn't cause it .. I did, with my stubborn pride and constant need to achieve more and more in this new obsession. Secondly, God was using the injury for good, to show me how totally out of whack my heart and life were. I would make time to run, sometimes a couple hours a day, but I wouldn't read God's Word or spend time in prayer. Am I still guilty of those things many days? Yes. But now that I'm running again, those slight painful tugs on the outside of my knee that still pop up from time to time remind me how important it is to keep my priorities straight. Thanks for sharing your story, and keep conquering those long runs ... with God as your source of fulfillment, not the number of miles.