pecaspers: a Blog in transition

March 14, 2013

I Hate Running: Thoughts on Discipline

Filed under: Ministry,My Life in General — pecaspers @ 9:43 PM
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Have you ever hear of a “runner’s high”? It’s some sort of euphoria you are supposed to experience when you take up distance running.

I have never felt that.

I (dramatic pause) HATE (more pause) running.

Tonight, I made the mistake of trying to go for a 2.5 mile run too soon after a heavy dinner. I cut my run short by about half to avoid any scenario involving puking. Cutting it short wasn’t ideal because I missed my run yesterday, but I guess now I’ll go back to my Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday run schedule.

As the New Year began, I purposed to get back to training as though I had a race to run. My father-in-law, who likes to run marathons, got us to run a 5k with him last year. The pounds were dropping as we trained for that race, but they not-at-all-surprisingly came back on when I stopped training after the race. So as a means to the end of getting in sight of 200lbs by the end of 2013, I downloaded a 10K Trainer app and started getting after it.

There haven’t been many days I’ve missed so far. I’ve gotten to the point where I can jog for a full 25 minutes without a break–when I don’t have steak and potatoes weighing me down, that is. In two more successful runs, I’ll be pushing it toward 27 minutes. And of course, the eventual goal is to be able to run a 10K in about an hour of solid jogging.

But let me reiterate that I hate running. I do not enjoy my runs, at least not the running part. I do enjoy getting the time to listen to sermons, podcasts, music, etc. I enjoy the chance to get out of the house. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve pushed myself beyond my former limits. But I hate, I hate, I hate the running.

Typically I get about half a mile behind me before contemplating punking out. Then, I decide that the growth in discipline is worth the effort and keep pressing on. A little after half-way through, I’ll start setting short-term goal to overcome. “Just make it to the stop sign, and we’ll see how we’re doing then,” I tell myself. When I reach the goal, I realize I’ve got more in me, and I keep going. With about 5 minutes left, I’ll start to tell myself that it would just be embarrassing to quit after making it so far. My go-to internal encouragements to get me through the tough spots are that (A) Jesus endured worse, so I can make it through this to His glory by His Spirit in me; (B) Satan likes failure and quitting, so keep going just to stick it to the Devil; (C) Jessica will find it sexy how strong and awesome you are if you keep going. Option C isn’t strictly true of any individual run, but I’m holding out hope that it proves true in he long…run. (I tried to stop that pun, but what’s the use?)

So why do I run?

The Apostle Paul says, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come,” (1 Timothy 4:8 ESV).

One of my biggest ongoing struggles is consistency in discipline. There are virtually no expectations or limitations put on me by my church. Other than Sundays and Wednesdays, nobody constrains me to be anywhere or do anything in particular. It’s easy to be wasteful and poorly prioritized with so much flexibility in ordering my time. And so, that is where 1 Timothy 4:8 comes into play.

The “some value” of “bodily training” includes the fact that discipline begets more discipline. Now, obviously the health benefits are there, and I’m running for those as well. However, developing a more disciplined life is more of a driving force in my taking up running.

And since running is a practice in developing discipline in my life, it’s really not a shocker that I hate it. See, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it,” (Hebrews 12:11 ESV). Discipline is always unpleasant in some sense. It costs some sacrifice of blood, sweat, tears, or worse. And yet, don’t miss the promise. Discipline produces righteousness, and righteousness IS pleasant and peaceful.

And so I run. I hate running. If by running I might come to be more like the Savior I love, then I’m going to need new shoes because I have a long way to go.

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