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Running and the faith connection- guest post

Posted Aug 12 2012 7:56am

Each story in the purposeful running series has been so different.  I’ve really enjoyed hearing what makes running meaningful for all of you.   Many thanks to Kris for sharing her running story.  I know many people find a spiritual side to their running, and hers is the first one I’ve received that touches on it.  I’ve gotten to know Kris through her blog at Fight Hard, Finish the Race and I’ve enjoyed following her new mom and running journeys!

First of all I would like to thank Laura for asking me to write a story for her Purposeful Running Series. I was honored when she asked and then I became intimidated by the thought of the amount of people that would possibly be reading my story since her blog is so popular! With that being said I’m sure you all would agree that Laura is a wonderful person and has a great blog and I’m happy that I can get to know her through it!

Running has always been enjoyable to me as I played sports through high school but I didn’t become a “runner” til 2005. The reason I started running then was to not only get physically fit but to repair my core and abdominal muscles that I had surgery on in April of 2004 due to a motorcycle accident. Although running seemed like an unlikely physical therapy option for me it was the only exercise that did not cause sharp abdominal pain that other ab exercises caused. It was (still is) a full body workout that helped my body gain strength and become balanced.

You may be wondering what sort of injuries I had, here is the list: left broken clavicle (collar bone), right broken scapula (shoulder blade), 3 fractured wing bones in my neck, 3 broken ribs (right side), punctured lung (right side), lacerated liver and then on top of it they did an exploratory surgery on my stomach/intestines to see if I had any internal bleeding…which I didn’t…Thank God!! All the doctor’s and nurses said it was a miracle I didn’t have worse injuries and that I hadn’t died. I thank God that I am alive and am here to tell about it!

I was advised after I got out of the hospital that I should not exercise for at least 6 months to give time for my body to heal. Strangely I never was advised to go to physical therapy. So when the Spring/Summer of 2005 rolled around I was ready to start getting into shape again but every strength workout that engaged my core muscles left me with a sharp and almost paralyzing stomach pain which I went to the doctor for but nothing was found and they advised it was probably the muscle growing over the scar tissue. Then one morning I was up early reading my devotional and praying and I felt like God was leading me to run to help me get back in shape. I was hesitant to try it since I had pain with other exercises but I figured I’d give it a shot. I made a loop in my neighborhood and it was probably ¾ of mile and came back home and felt awesome.

Later that day I didn’t experience any pain in my abdomen and determined that I would run the same loop once a day as part of my morning routine before work.  After a month or so I had added a little more distance and then drove the distance to see what it was, it was exactly 1 mile. I continued to run a mile a day for majority of the next couple years.  Running gave me a chance to think and pray and clear out negative thoughts. I always ran by feel because I didn’t have a watch and never even thought of entering a race. I began to lengthen the distance I ran but never knew the amount of miles I ran.

I moved up to 3-5 miles but it varied on my mood and level of energy. I never got injured probably because I only ran about 15 miles max a week and always went with what felt good to my body. It wasn’t till 2010 that I entered my first race, a half marathon, which my friend had asked me to train to run with her. I didn’t know much about races or training and I started with a Hal Higdon plan and then moved to a Runner’s World plan. I had a goal that I wanted to finish the half marathon in less than 2 hours. I don’t know how I decided this and now I know that’s a pretty lofty goal for your first half but I didn’t have anyone to tell me that it was a bad idea so I went after it.

I’m happy to say I accomplished my goal! My first half was ran in 1:54:43 and I was HOOKED on racing!! But then I found out a couple weeks later that I was pregnant! I had started to train for another half and was going to train for a full the next year but all my plans came to a halt. We were not planning to have kids anytime soon or maybe never so it was a shock to my husband and me but now our Miss Bean is the most precious person in our lives! I’m glad God had to surprise us to get us to have a child because we are so happy to be parents now.  Running now is my escape from mommyhood to be me and to pray and stay in shape!

Stroller running is a challenge but totally worth it and I know that I am only getting stronger with every stroller run I do. Although, the amount of miles have increased and the pace has quickened there is still one constant for running for me and that is to connect with who I am in Christ and to communicate with God. Running gets my overactive analytical brain to calm and my soul to just BE, BE in the moment, to discover what my spirit is yearning for, to listen to what God is trying to say to me and to help me grow as an individual so that I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and runner. I believe God led me to run that day because He knew that we could become closer through it and some of my most peaceful, joyful and worshipful times are when I run.

Whenever I get frustrated with distance or pace and start to loose my focus on why I run, I run out the door without my Garmin, without a distance in mind and I run until my brain shuts up and I can hear His voice and feel His presence and then He restores my soul.

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.2 He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. 3 He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.4 Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.6 Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

Does running have a spiritual component for you?

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