The granddaddy of one of my friends said to me one time, “Don’t look down when you are walking or people will think you are talking to the devil.” His remark has always stuck with me, and whenever I am stewing over something and the urge to look down feels natural, I try to pick up my chin and look toward the sky.
Earlier this afternoon, I set off on a six-mile run on a running trail that I have been frequenting this spring. I’ve run six miles on the trail once before, but normally I only run four miles — two miles out and two miles back. The first time I ran six a few weeks ago, the third mile out was unknown. That unknown made me nervous and those nerves made me pick up my pace. In doing so, exhaustion had set in by the time I reached the three-mile marker because most of the third mile was uphill. The difficulty of running uphill paired with my overly aggressive pace almost did me in, but the turnaround sent me back downhill and allowed me to recover. Once I got to the start of the fifth mile, I was back to the familiar spot of my normal turnaround when I run four miles. From there, I faced the challenge of running two more miles than usual in order to get back to my car, but my feet knew the way home and I pounded out the run.
Have you been faced with a new situation lately that took you out of your comfort zone or pushed you toward a new goal?
Today I ran another six-mile run on the same trail, and you know what? That fourth mile seemed so much easier this time. I knew it involved some uphill, I remembered some of the landmarks from the last time, and I had the confidence of knowing I could do it. It’s so true that doing something new is always hardest the first time. After that, experience and preparation lead the way.
Before I got to the turnaround today I got to thinking about my knees. I silently prayed my knees would always hold up and carry me for as many miles as I want to run now and in the future. So many runners get sidelined due to knee injuries and it’s something I hope never happens to me. Then I got to thinking about my ankles. When I was growing up I envied the dainty ankles of my grandmother on my mom’s side of the family. I didn’t get them. My ankles aren’t overly thick, but they definitely aren’t dainty. I like to think of them as sturdy (ha!). Without a doubt I inherited them from my dad’s mother. She had ankles on the thicker side. Sturdy. Today I had a realization that maybe God gave me sturdy ankles to take some of the pressure off my knees and protect me from injury later in life when running would become my therapy. I praised my ankles and the muscles around my knees for keeping them safe, and I thought of my grandmother and thanked my lineage.
My commitment to running has strengthened over the last few months, because it truly is beneficial to my overall health and well-being. You see, running is part of what I like to call my “medication plan.” Running isn’t a medication at all in terms of a pill, but it releases all the “feel good” endorphins that I need to keep me balanced. I guess you could say, I have an inherent need to run.
Part of my therapy when I run involves looking ahead and looking up. I scan the path ahead of me and I scan my surroundings, and I think of everything I am grateful for when I look toward the sky and breathe deep. Of course, sometimes I have to look down to avoid an obstruction on the trail or catch myself from stumbling over uneven pavement, but by and large I look up. I think of what my friend’s granddaddy said to me and avoid talking to the devil at all cost.
For the first half of the run, it sprinkled and I felt baptized by the droplets of rain coming down on my head. Part of the therapeutic benefits I gain from running, are that the sport has become spiritual, and in some ways, my form of church. I say this because I briefly glanced down today to avoid stepping in a puddle that caught my eye, and you know what? The reflection in the water from the sun, that had come out during the second half of my run, showed me a beautiful scene of the serene sky above. I turned my gaze back up and remained focused on the future and my blessings.
I am feeling sentimental today, so for others who mindfully look for the goodness around us, have accepted the make-up of your mind and body or felt touched by the hands of God recently, I urge you to look up. It’s Sunday after all.
Have you had any realizations about something you didn’t like when you were younger, but that the wisdom you attained over the years made you understand? If you are a runner, what do you think about when you run?