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Born to Run

By Sandra Clark

Starting this summer I’ve been working myself up running regularly. I’ve gone every weekday for a month now, and sporadically for three months now. I’m currently at two miles a day. This is massive for me. As I’ve been improving my stamina, ability, and commitment I’ve circled back to this essay I wrote two years ago. It’s still true, and now I’m believing it more than ever before.

This week I watched my son run his first race. Granted it was only a mile, but he felt official with a timing chip on his shoe and number flapping off his back. He had high hopes of a trophy, which were sadly unfulfilled.  I was so proud of him anyway. It was fun to watch him, and see him so pleased with himself. Watching the lines of his fluid body move, extension of his legs, and hair tousled in the early morning breeze, I couldn’t resist the Bruce Springsteen lyric blasting through my head: “Baby, we were born to run.”

Now, I don’t even pretend to be a runner. I’ve struggled with asthma since the age of four, too much exercise mixed with allergens in the air and I was running for my trusty inhaler. Yes, I was that kid. In my box of childhood treasures I have the a certificate for the only running award I’ve ever earned. 15th place girl (yeah, they awarded that just for me) in the fifth grade cross country turkey trot. I only placed because the award wasn’t given to those who walked any portion of the race. At the time it felt like it about killed me, but I did it.

Even though I am not a natural athlete by any stretch of the imagination, I like to move.

I’ve talked friends into taking six AM fitness classes with me, exploring the cities I’ve lived in by foot, and I love biking around town with my youngest on my bike with me. Movement feels good. My day is different when I am in motion. I feel a bit more aware, a bit more alive. Although there are still days when my asthma comes back swinging, I don’t quit. I need to move, my body was made for that. God made our bodies capable of work and movement. I like utilizing that capacity regularly.

Even though I was that kid with the inhaler, I wasn’t consumed by it. On my wall I had one of those classic prints, dusty rose, and vined with flowers, bearing my name and meaning. Sandra, helper of mankind. It felt lofty and daunting for a young kid. But the part I loved best was the accompanying scripture, Isaiah 40:31:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Rushing to find my emergency air inhaler, I needed that frequent reminder that when I needed it the Lord would magnify my physical abilities: that I could be more capable than I felt. I remembered that when I was doubled over in the chest-crushing tightness of an asthma attack. It might not have come at that moment, but whenever God saw fit, he could take that away and bless my health. I’ve come to know that promise again in D&C 89:20.

And they shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

Even if we never become marathon runners.  Our bodies were made to move and work best when we do that. Bodies and spirits are connected; exercising one is good for the other.

We care for our bodies and God’s grace will extend our efforts past our normal ability. The lines of our movements will become ever more fluid without tiring. When I think about this, I imagine eternal beings, as the objects in motion that remain in motion, as movement and progress become who and what we are.  Endless and eternal, running without weary and walking without faint. And while I wasn’t given the body naturally given to great physical ability or stamina, I like to think I am moving toward it.

I’ am now moving toward it, and I’m amazed at the progress I’m beginning to see. (Honestly that came as soon as I got some decent shoes, began to make a real commitment to myself to keep going, plugged into some up tempo tunes, and made the frank realization I really do have to use that dumb inhaler if I want to go more than a block.)  And now I’m doing more than I ever thought possible; maybe we were born to run. 

What about you, how do you move? Does it feel natural or do you really have to work for it?  (And for my own benefit- what’s your favorite song to run to? I need some more variety.)

About Sandra Clark

Sandra Clark Jergensen's writing (most often about food) has been published in Gastronomica, Apartment Therapy, The Exponent, and at Segullah, where she was once the Editor-in-Chief, and now as Features Editor. Sandra geeked out on food and writing as a master's student food studies at University of Texas, Arlington. She makes her home in California where she runs without shoes, foster parents, teaches cooking, develops recipes, and struggles to take pictures with her eyes open, and sometimes all at the same time. She is the owner and creator of thekitchennatural.com.

9 thoughts on “Born to Run”

  1. I too was the girl with the inhaler, the last one across the line at the 50-yard dash. When I was in my late 20s, I started meeting friends to walk our kids in our joggers. I soon realized that I could only go three miles before the kids started freaking out when I walked, but I could go four or five when I ran. So running seemed like a more efficient way to get a workout in. I've never looked back. I agree with good shoes, and keeping an inhaler ready. And I love Audible books, Vampire Weekend, and Mumford and Sons to run to.

  2. This was a timely post for me–this morning I could barely button my pants and one of my favorite sweaters is too tight. For several years I've had the desire to exercise but just haven't done it. Unfortunately I work full-time at a job that mostly involves sitting in front of a computer 8 hours a day. My body hardly moves at all lately. And, as a single parent, I can't go outside to run early in the mornings or the evenings either. But, I really feel the desire to move–especially as I am getting older and I can see people 20 or 30 years ahead of me and the difference that an active lifestyle can make. Exercise has never been a part of my life so getting started is so hard, but I think you might have inspired me to use the exercise bike in my basement a little more frequently.

  3. Jessie- you totally can. I decided to log my time early in the morning, and it has really helped me jump start my day. I circle the streets around our house because my husband leaves for work while I am out, and the kids are asleep in their beds. I'm close by and make sure they are alone for more than 10-15 minutes in the gap between my husband leaving and my arrival back. However you make it work… and whatever it is, is something and enough to start with.

  4. Athletic ability and coordination are not in me. My parents never exercised, nor did us kids growing up (and rarely got to participate in sports/dance). But when my oldest started kindergarten, I decided it was time to get off my bum. I started out walking with the younger two in a double stroller. We would walk my daughter to school then continue on on a path that goes behind the school and on eastward. Next, the 4 year old would ride his bike alongside while I strollerbladed with the youngest. (Yes, that's where my name came from.) The 4 year old logged over 100 miles by the time he turned 5. I kept strollerblading for several years (when I wasn't pregnant). One January morning, I fell *in my front yard* when I was headed out strollerblading the kids to school, and broke my arm and now have a metal plate in that wrist, but after that healed, I got a couple more months of strollerblading in before I got pregnant with my last child. Once the youngest was too big for the stroller and preferred a bike, I went back to walking, plus was doing pilates. I had a good run of about 8 years of regular exercise, but over the last year and a half it has almost completely stopped.

    I am not one of those people, nor do I ever think I will be, who miss exercising on the days that I didn't exercise. The 21-day-makes-a-habit thing doesn't seem to apply to my exercising. While I *did* like the meditation time it provided me (kids were either plugged into earphones with music or else just riding their bike while I was always listening to music — it was not a time for conversation), and exercise does provide me with a mood lift, it is still to this day something that I have to put on my To Do list and drag myself out the door to do. It has never become easier. It is still a chore.

    In the last year and a half, I stopped going to my pilates group and I started walking with a friend. I had never been able to stand exercising *with* other people up until the last 4 years or so (leftovers from my childhood of being called fat and stuff), so it was a pretty big step to start exercising with other people. However, now it has contributed to my downfall. Now I*only* go if my friend can go walking — which is less than once a week now. I've got exercise scheduled in to my new Fall the-kids-are-all-in-school-full-day schedule, but I have yet to follow through on it. Gah. Exercise.

  5. I've always been a pretty active person – I grew up on a farm, so life was exercise. Now that I'm not on the farm, I find that I have to force myself to exercise. This is what works for me: If I plan an hour or more of exercise, I'll never stick to it. But if I plan 20 minutes, I think, "Sure! 20 minutes is nothing. I can do that!" So for the last two school years I have been getting up 45 minutes earlier than my kids to do yoga. There are free 20 minute podcasts from yogajournal.com or yogadownload.com that I can do in my living room. Then, after the kids are off to school, I go to the gym and walk/jog/run on a treadmill for 20-25 minutes 3 times/week. I've been doing that for over a year now. It's the first time in my life I have actually stuck with an exercise program, so I'm pretty happy! It's not a lot and I'm not in the best shape I could be, but it's something, I'm in better shape than I used to be and I feel good. So, if exercise is daunting, try telling yourself, "Just 20 minutes!"

    I will say though, this only happened after my youngest started preschool. It's so hard to with little ones at home.

  6. Thanks, Sandra. I needed this reminder. I've always loved to run, but it's been a decade since I did it with any seriousness. And lately I've lost even my life-long exercise habit. Gotta get it back. Thanks for reminding me why.

  7. My mom always did something–walking, aerobics, yoga, etc. I credit that with not only keeping her trim, but limber and from SO many problems many of her friends have who don't move. I am grateful for her example. I do ten minutes of stretching yoga in the mornings, 20 minutes of cardio (either I run out and back for ten minutes or I do step aerobics with Cathe Friedrich–my FAVORITE exercise instructor.) I also do 15-17 minute of weights from Cathe's "Power Hour" video. A friend sent that video to me almost 12 years ago. I have done it fairly regularly since then (except in the throes of pregnancy.) I quit doing it a couple of years ago and starting having strange pains in my legs when I would lift them to get dressed. Once I went back to doing weights those pains went away. I totally credit regular exercise with not only helping keep my weight down but with keeping my back from hurting and preventing other aches and pains. Do I love exercise in the moment? Not usually, but I am TOTALLY sold on its effects!

  8. Roo–I am RIGHT THERE with you on 20 minutes! ALL of my workout sessions are broken down into 20 minute increments (or less).

  9. Exercise, bah humbug! Always last on my to-do list and too easy to skip. I do have some upbeat songs though: Eye of the Tiger, Fidelity, Get on Your Feet, Hey Soul Sister, I'll Fly Away (Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack), Kiss Me, Two Princes, U Can't Touch This, and Walkin' on the Sun.


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