Three Years: Run Yourself Better

by Jodi
Today my run streak hit three years.  Three years of tying up the laces and running at least one continuous mile each day.  I've got 936 miles under my feet so far in 2018, and over 6,000 miles since I started my streak.  I am thankful for every single day I can run.  Thankful for every single mile.

My friend Paula is on her 10th year of run streaking.  When people ask her, "Don't you get injured?" she smiles and says, "Sure.  Run yourself better."  She should trademark this phrase.  It has come to define what my run streak is for me.

I started my streak three years ago when my husband Curt was working a more than full time job and also a full time doctoral student.  My run streak was a stabilizing force in a chaotic and unpredictable season in our family's life.  It was free mental therapy.  God knew I needed it.  #runyourselfbetter

Once Dr. Stilp graduated, I was less emotionally needy.  A minor knee injury nagged its way into really painful tendonitis that took a good six months to rehab.  I went from 40+ miles a week for over two years, to barely eking out twenty, slow painful miles a week. I considered ending the streak, but I was within months of my 1,000 day goal. I couldn't quit, but it was a rare day that I didn't have to talk myself into tying up the laces and stepping into another painful run.

Those pain filled months were so good for me though.  I got to practice showing grace to myself.  Up until this point in my streak, I had averaged around 6 miles a day for more than two years.  Running "just" one mile felt like cheating.  But my body needed rest so I learned to let myself have One Mile Days.  I dumped plans for all races - including training programs with intense workouts - and just ran short, slow miles.  I took walks with my friends who don't run. And you know what?  My knee slowly got better.  #runyourselfbetter

1,000 days arrived on April 4th of this year.  I got my run streak comma.  I really thought I would take the next day off.  But my kids didn't want me to quit.  "We love your run streak Mom.  It's so fun for us to watch you do this.  Our friends think it's cool.  But most of all you would miss it." And they were right.  When it came to Day 1,001, I knew I couldn't skip a run.  If I was capable of running a mile, why wouldn't I?  So like Forrest Gump, I kept running.

On May 13th, tragedy rocked our world.  One of my dearest friends lost her husband in a tragic accident.  Less than a week later, another friend of mine told me she had just been diagnosed with cancer. We're the same age.  We've raised our kids together.  How can this be? In this mix of grief and tragedy, one of our pastors and his wife found out that their unborn twin boys had an in-utero accident.  One died in the womb.  The other sustained such significant brain damage that he was not expected to live outside the womb.  Grief upon grief upon grief.

I am 1,000% emotionally needy again and have sobbed and prayed my way through run after run. My training partners (who are also some of my best friends) have let me verbally process through the unfairness of good people living in a broken world being given a cross of suffering.  Free therapy.  God knew I needed my streak.  #runyourselfbetter

I am so grateful to serve a God who invites me into an authentic faith instead of a tidy one.  Nothing about my life is tidy right now.  I am discombobulated, raw, and emotional.  I have never felt Jesus more real than now and I am so grateful, but Jesus and I are not in a warm fuzzy phase.  We are wrestling through the mire.  I get stuck on the unfairness.  The weight of the grief.  We are not made for this...

How do I walk well alongside my closest friend when each morning she wakes up alone and has to face another day without the love of her life?

Why did my friends take one infant son home on hospice care when there were supposed to be two, healthy boys leaving the hospital?

Why does my friend have to schedule chemotherapy into her weekly rhythm instead of spin class?

Jesus how do I get my raging emotions to fall in line with what I know is true of you?  That you are faithful.  That you are love.  That you are good and that you will make all things right in the end?

These are just some of the questions I take with me on the run.  There's something about the rhythm, the effort, the cadence of running that lets The Ugly slide off and opens my gutted heart to really receive the truth.  Jesus welcomes my questions, my grief, my emotions.  He invites me into his arms and gently reminds me that the way through the valley is continued obedience.

"In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome..." 
- I John 5:3

Last week I studied Galatians 5.  It talks about the characteristics that should define the people who follow Jesus and are filled with His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self control.  In this current season, I'm struggling with all of it.  It's almost comical how tricky it is to choose joy and patience and self control when you feel like such a raging mess internally.  Laugh or cry friends..  I've done both.

The passage finishes up with this verse. "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."  

As I enter another year of my run streak, my goal is to "keep in step with the Spirit" as He runs with me through the valley of the shadow of death.  One foot after the other.  One mile after another.  Each step, a step to healing. 

Run yourself better. 

#runyourselfbetter #whyirun #runstreak #runeveryday #stepstohealing

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