57: Running for My Life

57: Running for My Life

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

Running for My Life

The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.

~Bill Bowerman

“I ran 62.5 miles over the weekend,” one of my co-workers announced.

“That sounds awful,” I said. “Did your car break down? Aren’t you a AAA member?”

Levi laughed and told me about participating in the Ultimate Race of Champions, a 100K race in the Appalachian Mountains of Waynesboro, Virginia. He described it as extremely challenging, a race that pushed his body and mind to their absolute limits. It was something he wanted to cross off his bucket list.

I immediately thought of my own bucket list: visit Tahiti, publish a novel, and sing with a band. Nope, none of my items had anything to do with running. In fact, they had nothing to do with exercise at all.

I do not like exercising. To be perfectly honest, I despise it almost as much as my biannual trips to the dentist.

When asked if I run, I typically respond, “Only when chased.” But recently, instead of laughing at my sarcasm, Levi said, “Maybe you should practice. Then, if you are being chased, you might not get caught.”

I thought about the truth of his remark. Maybe I would never need to outrun a mountain lion or an armed criminal. But obesity and hereditary diseases are chasing me. Those are the things I need to outrun. So Levi is right. I do need to get faster.

Since we don’t live close to a gym, my husband and I purchased a treadmill. I have been exercising regularly now for a little over three months. I want to lose weight for an upcoming wedding I will be in. More importantly, I want to improve my health and outrun the demons of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

I am still in the very early stages of my lifestyle change, but I have already noticed some differences. My clothes fit better. I have more energy, and I am usually in a more positive mood. Plus, I am actually getting faster.

I still cannot say that I enjoy exercising. I would prefer a thirty-minute nap in a hammock swing to a thirty-minute jog any day.

But I am tolerating exercise better and incorporating it into my life more frequently. Each week I continue to increase my speed and degree of incline on the treadmill. My relationship with running has also improved from one of hatred to one of respect. I am hoping to establish a true friendship sometime in the near future.

Last month, we took our annual family trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Typically, the most physical activity I engage in is a walk along the beach or a stroll through the outlet mall. This year, however, I took full advantage of the community fitness center. I exercised between thirty and sixty minutes on the treadmill, five out of seven days of my vacation. I didn’t always enjoy it, but I did appreciate how I felt afterwards.

There are days when I get moving on the treadmill and I don’t think I will last more than five minutes. My legs feel like lead, and I don’t feel motivated. That’s when I think back to something Levi said: “Discomfort is like a door you have to pass through to get to somewhere new in your life.”

That is exactly what I want to accomplish. I want a new level of fitness that my body has not seen in years. So, if that means tolerating a certain degree of discomfort, then I am game.

Levi finished his ultra-marathon in sixteen hours, fifty-two minutes and twenty-eight seconds. He was the last person to finish under the elite cutoff. He met his goal.

I will probably never run a marathon, but next year I am going to enter a 5K. It will be my very first race, and I intend to finish it.

As I run for my life, I try to keep in mind everything that is chasing me.

~Melissa Face

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