running to slow down

It gives me great joy to be able to say that I, Jessie Childs, am a runner.

I was not always a runner and I am definitely new to the scene, not even a year in to it yet. I can thank a good friend for getting me into it. For awhile he would joke about running, offering to help train me, and I always said HECKKKK to the no. Then one day I just decided to try it and it was not as bad as I thought. I was on and off for awhile, and in an “off” phase, this friend out of the blue said “Lets show up tomorrow morning at 9am and run a 5k because I want you to know that you can do it”. I looked at him like he was crazy, but agreed.

We ran the slowest 5k in history, BUT we did it. My out-of-shape body ran over 3 miles and I felt so accomplished and encouraged. I thought, if I can run this now, imagine how much better I will feel if I consistently ran?

That day flipped a switch for me. Exercise has never been a fun thing for me. Ever. I would much rather get lost in a book or do something related to music. If you want to take me on a beautiful hike, yes all the way. If you want me to lift some weights or do some crunches, count me out.

Then running became a part of my life. I got fitted for shoes (which made me feel super cool) and I became a runner, simply because I ran.

What has surprised me about running is that it brings a lot of joy and peace to my life (I know, I know, there are a bunch of scientific reasons). But dude, I often SMILE when I run, because I am having so much fun. That is just wild to me.

This week as I was running I thought about all that I have learned as I have circled the shaded streets in my neighborhood the past few months.

I chuckled to myself when I realized that ironically enough running has taught me to slow down. You see, it forces me to stop doing and just be alive, just exist—or in other words, just run.

A mistake a lot of people make (*cough* me) when they start running is that they are super tense and go too hard, and they think that it is supposed to hurt (not true, unless there is a legitimate past injury!). When I control my running, I am actually relinquishing control in a sense. I want to go fast and hard right out the gate, but instead I listen to my body and run at a pace that does not feel like I am overachieving, but a pace that pushes me just enough that the run brings a smile to my face. It has taught me to relax, let go of perfection and overachieving, and have more balance.

I have also discovered grace in running. When I do not run as often as I would like, I overcome the shame that makes me want to quit for good and remind myself that I just need to do what I can, when I can, and then I SHOW UP. Showing up is a win. It truly does not matter how fast, or far I go, it just matters that I am there. I made it. Sure, I can challenge myself sometimes to go faster or longer, but it is a process.

The practice of running has a spiritual element to it for me–it is a time of day when it is just me and God doing something together. My head is clear to pray and dialogue with God about life, because running forces me to get away from tasks and distractions, and focus on the mental strength needed to run. It is a sweet retreat. Sometimes it is a great time to think about nothing at all. Just run and enjoy creation–a way of worshiping the Creator.

If you would have told me this time last year that I would become a runner I would have laughed for a long time. Great joke, dude. Me? A runner? HA. Yet here I am, running and feeling alive. 

A lot of these lessons learned from running can be applied to so much of our lives. What are places, people or activities in your life that have shown you grace or what it looks like to mentally slow down?

p.s. If you’re thinking about trying out running, I HIGHLY recommend running in the rain sometime. It is magical. Just don’t get sick, haha.

p.s.s Shout out to my friend Natedawg for encouraging me to do something out of my comfort zone, like he always does.

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