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.)