Am I a runner now?
It all started in May 2014. I began jogging then in preparation for an overseas trip that would stretch me physically. When I returned, I just kept running. In October, I wrote What Am I Running From?, not realizing that I'd still be running over a year later.
So after 18 months, I'm thinking that I'm probably a "runner." It's become a welcome relief when days are long and pressures are great. It helps me clear my heart and my head. I'm 47, and I've got many, many more years of not running behind than I have of running, but at this point, the discipline and benefits of exercise and regular solitude make me think I'm going to stick with it.
I'm not a social runner. I've had people ask about running together. For starters, I can't run and talk. Second, I just enjoy thinking too much. My ministry profession has me with people I lot, and running is an activity that my introverted heart can soak up and get refueled. It's like a trip to the coffee shop - only without coffee, and with lots of sweat, and gnats.
Here's a few things I've learned in the past 18 months from running:
I like music. I never really listened to music much. When I'm in the car, my radio is normally off. Other than that, I listen to praise music in the background while I'm reading in the mornings. Running has given me time to explore and discover music again.
There's a lot of smells out there. Yeah. I know. Crazy, right? You get to smell stuff while you're running - trees, flowers, your own BO, and occasionally cow manure when I run by Virginia Tech/CRC.
You lose weight when you run regularly. I don't know how much I've lost, but Adelyn enjoys sending me pictures from a year or so ago with the label of "Fat Jeff." Yes, she's an encouraging one.
You get to explore places you wouldn't otherwise. One of my most enjoyable runs this past year was around the Lincoln Memorial and Mall in DC. When I've been out of town for a few weddings this year, it's been fun to simply find a trail and enjoy new scenery.
Running shoes aren't supposed to last a year. A friend at church asked me what shoes I run in. It was this past April. When I told him I'd ordered Asics in May 2014 and was still running in them, he was horrified. Apparently, you're not supposed to keep running shoes until they fall apart like I've always done with other tennis shoes.
You can run in really cold weather. It was bone-chilling in Blacksburg this past winter, but I kept on my every other day schedule, and ran right through it. I bought some tighties/leggings and warm up pants. (And I promise I will never wear leggings without my warmup pants over them! That's just gross, dudes!)
A new hobby/activity opens up new conversations and relationships. That was an unexpected benefit. Not only have I met people, but I've got a new connection point with people who I didn't have things in common with before.
Hills stink. Yep. I don't like them. Make me wheeze.