chilling feet

chilling feet

Monday, April 30, 2018

One Other Reason I Run

(Eric Liddell - click on this link to see the site
I borrowed the image from)
This past Sunday I was reminded of one of the many reasons I run.  It's not something I think about much, and there are certainly moments when I all but forget about it.  This reason goes beyond the personal benefits of running and enters into the philosophical.

Put simply, because others cannot run. 

There are many aspects of my life that can often be taken for granted.  Breathing, eating food, being healthy, enjoying the love of my wife - this list could go on for quite some time.  Running is certainly on this list. 

And yet some people would find this surprising.  Since I began running in middle school, there has always been a general confusion surrounding why I would ever choose to run.  The expressions of the overall communal misunderstanding of why I run has been presented over the years in the forms of jokes, strained faces of disgust, people throwing things from their cars at me, insults or unimaginative movie quotes hurled out as they drive by, or any other number of odd ways.  Suffice it to say, the average person I have talked to does not understand the desire to run long distances. 

Today I do not want to talk about the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits I believe running offers.  I do not want to dwell on the amazing camaraderie that is fostered through enduring mile after mile with another human.  I do not want to comment on the many other reasons I have run previously, or ponder on a few that might arise in the future.  I simply want to talk about a reminded inspiration this weekend offered me. 

(Shelby Farms right as we were starting)
During a service at Hope Church this past weekend in Cordova, TN, a group of wonderful young individuals came out to perform to one of the songs from the movie The Greatest Showman.  Hope has long been a church that offered ministry to and for the special needs community of Memphis.  This Sunday service was a wonderful demonstration of how this ministry gives back to the church as a whole, and we surely benefited from their wonderful performance.  Such beautiful young adults all giving their best to offer us a gift of dance, smiles, and wonder. 

It started me on a long train of thought.  I had run twelve miles the morning before with a friend and my brother.  It was a great run and I cherish such experiences immensely.  This train of thought led me to thinking on an odd running experience from years past.  One of my seminary professors was struggling intensely in his battle with cancer.  I became convinced, however silly it might have been, that on one of my runs that the greater I persisted and struggled the more relief he would feel.  Strange, yes.  But it was also meaningful and I believe there was some mysterious truth in it. 

I then found myself thinking back on Eric Liddell, who I was introduced to in the watching of the movie Chariots of Fire.  Liddell had a unique running form and would often tilt his head back as he entered the most difficult part of the race.  Some have described his face as having an expression of joy, or a wide smile, as he began to push his body into the moment when a person cannot be sure there will be anything left to finish the race.  At least one or two accounts I have read describe seeing Liddell run as watching a man who truly loved to run.  It must have really been amazing to see a man run who love it so!

(Running goofballs Bryce and Bryan. Good times)
The method of thought was quite bizarre, but this is how my thoughts work sometimes. 
From there I was just stuck thinking, as I have in the past on occasion, how lucky I am to be capable of running.  During injuries these thoughts are readily apparent.  Every time I stop to consider this line of thinking I am always struck by the opposite of the gift of running.  There are countless who do not have this gift.  Some had it - some never have.  One day I will look back on my running days with a longing sense of loss.  When I find myself fixated on those who will never experience the fantastic April breeze and sunshine from the perspective of a body loping over trails and through trees, it is with a renewed sense of joy I remind myself of my love for running. 

Running is a gift.  Running is a choice.  But there are some who cannot make the choice to go dashing off into the wild - to feel the burn of the lungs, good worked legs, renewing of body and mind through deep breathing, to experience the run in its entirety.  Is it an obligation for me to run?  No, I do not quite feel that but it is very close! 

Why do I run?  This week I run for those who would love to but cannot.  This week as I find myself involuntarily smiling and thanking God for the ability to run, which does happen with regularity, I will quicken my step for the one who has no step.  As I am enjoying the breeze in my face, I will allow it to be a reminder of the resistance others have that keeps them from the joy of a run. 

(Post run celebratory pic)
I know there are plenty of folks who are wholly capable of experiencing this joy and who cringe at the thought of a perceived tortuous run.  There are others, much fewer most likely, who understand what I am driving at here.  And to those I say this - this week enjoy your runs a little bit more.  In spite of speed, unachieved goals, nagging injuries, or whatever other ailments there might currently be in your running life, you're out there running! 

So smile and go get some miles.  Run as the young adults on stage performed this past Sunday, in a dance of smiles and wonder.

(I hope to add a group pic we took at the end of Saturday's run but for now it's still on the camera)

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