Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Running for LIFE

For runners, heading out for a run is more than logging in miles or training for a upcoming race. No, running is therapy. It's spiritual renewal. It's a way of life we can't do without!

Run for Your Life!

I am honored to have two running stories in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul book: Running for Good that has just been release in time for Global Running Day.

Years ago, I ran in high school track and on the cross-country team. I ran because it was fun and my friends were also on the team. But I never felt like a runner.

One day, it happened.

During cross-country practice, we ran eight miles. I had never run that distance before. Stopping to think about it, I finally felt like a runner... a real runner!

I haven't stopped since.

I always warn new runners that, the first time they run eight to ten miles, they will fall in love with running. They will experience that runner's high and never look back. It's tempting to run all the time, I warn them, but don't do it! Be sensible and rest to allow your body to heal. Those who listen, go on to experience fun and exciting running events. Those who don't listen to advice or their bodies, experience injuries early on.

The Spiritual High

That's why running is so appealing. Your body will speak to you as you run. You can have a long, deep conversation with your body while you're logging in eight to ten miles. At first, it whispers to you. And if you continue to ignore it, it speaks loudly to you. And if you still continue to ignore it...your body will scream at you!

That's what I experienced while training for my favorite race: The Marine Corps Marathon

I wrote about this race in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good. I trained and trained so hard for this once-in-my-lifetime race, that I ignored the warnings my body was sending me daily. I ignored it until it screamed at me and I couldn't take another step.

So, I rested and paid attention to my body's needs. It healed and off we went to the marathon!

I call this the Spiritual High because running allows you time to really listen. You can think deep thoughts while out on a run. I tend to write scenes for my latest writing project while I run. Sometimes, I work out problems I'm having at work or at home. Most of the time, I talk to God and seek His wisdom. Because I was bedridden during my pregnancy and afterwards, I went almost two years without running. Today, I appreciate every workout more than ever. When you've been forced to lie in bed for almost six months and experience atrophy, and then have surgery that keeps you from returning to normal life for another six months, getting your health back is priceless.

As I lay in bed, day after day, worrying about my unborn child and my own health, I prayed and bargained with God. "Lord," I prayed. "If you give me my health back, I promise I won't take exercise for granted ever again. If you get me back out there on the trails, I will always give you thanks. I promise."

That was 25 years ago and six marathons, eighteen half marathons, four ultra-marathons, and sprint triathlons later. After every workout, I thank the Lord for giving me my health back to enjoy.

My hubby is my main support! I couldn't do any of it without him.

Run for Your Life

In this book, I also wrote about how running helped me heal after suffering the tremendous loss of my older sister, Tammie. I have since lost my mom, aunts and uncles, grandparents, as well a beloved pet dog, and continue to use running as a time of therapy and renewal. I know my sister and my mom wouldn't want me to stop doing what I love. So, I run for them and all those who can no longer hit the trails.

Running is a way to enjoy life and prolong a healthy lifestyle. Smart training and planning can ensure successful race completion. I have found running to keep my health balanced and my body fit. In the book, you will read so many stories about people who found new health through running.

Their stories are so incredibly motivating!

Running through Rome in the 2018 Maratona di Roma

Last year, when I trained for the Rome Marathon, I had to have a complete physical as part of the race registration process. My doctor was astounded by the results of my bloodwork. "I haven't seen such excellent numbers in a long time."

"Running," I said. "Clean living and running will do that for you."

Running in the Across the Years ultra marathon
I run for pleasure and for life. But I know I won't be able to do it forever. So, I also ride my bike, swim, do Pilates, and hike. An active lifestyle goes along with spiritual health and mental health. Because I have learned so much about how running improves mental health, I plan on returning to school for a second Masters degree in Mental Health and Wellness at Grand Canyon University. Writing more about how running can improve emotional stability in addition to physical stability is my goal. Hopefully, more and more people will be inspired to try running.

I have a few more races to enter and complete before I hang up my running shoes. I also have more "metaphorical" races to enter and complete. Running has prepared me for the obstacles I will face in life. I hope to inspire others to try running and see for themselves how their bodies and mental state will grow stronger.

Running really is for good!

Your turn: Do you run? How has running changed your life? If not, what do you do to maintain mental health and renewal?