New Year's Day, 2011 - I was visiting my parents over the holiday, and after a shower, I stepped on their bathroom scale. I hadn't been on one for a while, as ours was still packed away in a box after our latest move. As I stepped on the scale, it began showing bigger numbers than I'd ever seen on a scale. I didn't realize the numbers went that high...
I decided I needed to do something about it. So when I got back home, I went to the gym and started running. I ran a couple of times on the treadmill, but didn't really enjoy it much. I knew I'd need some sort of goal if I was going to keep this up. So I downloaded an app on my phone called "CouchTo10K". This program acts as a trainer, taking a person from no activity to running a 10k race in 13 weeks. The first week, the program tells you to run 30 seconds, then walk 4 1/2 minutes, and repeat 8 or 9 times. I started with week 3 or 4, which had me running 2 minutes, walking three, repeating for an hour. As the weeks went by, the running time increased, while the walking time decreased.
When I think back to those first runs in January, I would have laughed at anyone who suggested that in three months I could be running over 6 miles without stopping. But using the training the app provided, I made it. By the end of April, I ran 7 miles non-stop.
So then I asked, what next? I'd met my goal of being able to run a 10k - now I needed a new goal. Looking at upcoming runs in my area, I saw that there is a half-marathon on a Sunday in October. There it was - my new goal. So now I'm training for that event. I run 3 times a week - my Wednesday and Friday runs are shorter runs at a faster pace, and on Sundays I do a longer run at a comfortable speed. Over the next few months, I hope to bring those together - being able to do a longer run at a good pace. I'm hoping to run the half-marathon in less than two hours. We'll see how it goes...
One of the things that has kept me going is that I've become part of a running community on Facebook. Every time I run, my phone posts my results on my Facebook page. When I started, I wasn't the least bit proud of my times or distances, but I enjoyed being able to see my progress as the weeks went by. But something else happened. When these postings went up on my Facebook page, friends who are also runners would leave encouraging comments, pushing me to keep it up. The comments were always positive, and I found the encouragement incredibly motivating. There are often days when I don't feel like running, but as I look back at the comments that have been left on my wall, I'm motivated to go out there and do it again.
Something else happened that I found interesting, as well. As my runner friends posted runs on their walls, I found motivation from their activities. I would see a friend whose pace was picking up over time, and it would make me want to do that, too. Because I found so much encouragement from others' comments, I started to leave comments on their runs, also. It has amazed me that some of these friends have found either my runs or my comments encouraging, and they have been motivated to push on, just as I have been. Knowing that my runs make someone else want to get out there and do it keeps me running on those days I don't want to.
As I think about the last six months, and this running community I've become a part of, I'm reminded that this is exactly what the Christian community should be. What if we, as Christians, were known for encouraging one another. What if we celebrated each others victories, and encouraged each other when we just weren't feeling it, when things aren't going so well. What if I found motivation from your victories, and you found the same in mine. I want to be part of a Christian community that does what this running community does. I want to live a life that motivates others to push on. I want to encourage those who are struggling to go the next mile. I want to surround myself with those who will encourage me when I need those things.
I feel blessed to be part of communities like this here in the Dayton area, just as I was in Hamilton Church in Chattanooga. I praise God today for community, both in my running, as well as in life.
(Dedicated to my running/working out friends: Andre, Julie, Mindy, Dora, Silke, Chuck, Ben, Steve, Stefan, Dawn, Russ, Brittney, Anita, Ali, Roger, Sara, Craig, Bob, Pete, Kathy, and Debbie - you guys are the best! Keep it up!)