Archive for June, 2010

Obsessed with Speed

I have become a bit obsessed with speed lately.  Guessing that’s because I have none.

Let’s be real here.  Two weeks ago I got passed by a 55-yr-old couple out walking their dog.  Not passed by a teeny bit – fully passed.  Thank goodness I turned before I could see just how far in front of me they might get.  My 14-yr-old stepson can run darn close to 3 miles in the time I can run 1.  My time would have earned me an F- in high school gym class.

I’m starting to be pretty sure that I will indeed be the last “runner” to finish the 5K that is looming in less than 3 weeks.  Not a feeling I’m looking forward to.

I had a particularly hard run yesterday.  I made it 2 miles – which was my goal – but it felt TERRIBLE.  I thought my legs were going to fall off.  And it was my slowest run in a few weeks, and the previous ones were darn slow.

I realized that I’ve started to take my running a bit “for granted.”  Just a few weeks ago, I spent a lot of time in prayer before I set out.  I had several verses in my mind to repeat to myself throughout the run to keep me going.  I guess now that running has become somewhat of a habit, and the goals don’t seem so insurmountable (like the day I had to go from running 8 min at a time to 20 min at a time), I haven’t put the mental focus into it.

So yesterday when an article appeared on the Couch-2-5K FB page on mental training and focus, I knew I should click on it.  ( Maximizing… )

The first Principle of Focusing stopped me in my tracks:

1. Try to remain oblivious to the outside world. Orlick provides great examples of how well we are able to push ourselves when we are not aware that we are being “scored.” Ask yourself how things change for you when you realize people expect things out of you.

Once again, I find myself in the trap of worrying about others. Worrying about how I’ll look to them, how I’ll compare to them, what they’ll think of me.

I didn’t start “running” for anybody except God, and a bit for me.  HE put this path in front of me, and told me He had some things He wanted me to learn.  Part of it was about my physical health, but many larger parts were about my spiritual and mental health.  You can read about that in some of my previous posts.

So, I had to ask myself this – “Does God care about my speed?”

I couldn’t come up with any way to answer that question except for an emphatic NO.  He cares about my obedience.  He cares about where my heart is.  He cares about whether I’m listening to what He’s trying to teach me and to where He wants me to go.

And I suspect, within all of that, He’s also trying to teach me to quit thinking about what others are thinking and only care about Him.

And so I also have to ask myself in many other areas of my life (Bible study, relationships, serving in ministry, etc) – how would things change for me if I quit “scoring” myself against others and if I ignored people’s expectations of me, and how others change the expectations I have of myself?

Not a question I can answer today, but one I need to spend some time exploring.

Maybe I’ll do it on my next run when I try to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit.  Because although the numbers don’t matter, I know He asks us to give our all and sometimes – many times – that takes some discomfort.

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Where’s the Reward?

I’ve been waiting for the last 6.5 weeks.  Not very patiently.

For what, you ask?  For this running thing to start feeling “good.”  Where’s the magical “runners high?”  Waiting for something more than 1/2 pound to come off each week, when I’ve been running, watching what I eat, and squeezing a little Jillian Michaels in between.

And yesterday, I realized that God didn’t call me to start running because of some earthly reward.  He called me because He had some things to teach me.

Some good, much-needed lessons.  How to rely on Him moment by moment.  The joy of day-by-day obedience.  Not being worried about the future, but just trusting that if I do what He asks to do, I’ll be ready for what He’ll ask tomorrow.

God cares so much more about the journey and the process than He does the reward.  It doesn’t mean there will never be a reward, it just means that the end is not the only thing that matters.

Another lesson for me.  And not one I’m learning quickly, I can assure you.  I’d still like to see that scale move.

Update:  As I’ve been out driving this morning (taking the dog to the kennel – we leave for Florida in 6 hours!), it’s really been bugging me that I left this post where I did.  Because the truth is that I’ve had many rewards over the last 7 weeks – just not the ones I had hoped for.

#1 – My cardiovascular fitness is WAY improved.  Seriously, on Day 1, I thought my heart was going to pound right out of my chest.  My cardio fitness does not in any way impact my running anymore.  (so far)

#2 – I’ve experienced the power of community in a great way.  I wouldn’t be doing this if not for some great friends on the journey with me.

#3 – I’ve seen what God can do in me when I let Him give me the power and the strength.  I would have given up many, many times – especially in the early weeks – if I wasn’t able to pray for strength and actually feel a difference while I was running.

#4 – I’ve experienced the joy of doing what I know God wants me to do.  Even when it seems crazy – which running certainly seemed crazy.  There’s never a day that I get done that I am not joyous that I went out and did it.

#5 – I feel better and have more energy.  I have great new confidence – seriously, I ran 27 minutes yesterday!!  I’m not joking when I say that 7 weeks ago I couldn’t have run to the end of the block without giving up.  If I can do that, what else can I do???

He has much bigger rewards for us that we will ever imagine…

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A Crazy Cycle

Does this exercise cycle sound familiar to you?

1.  Think for a long time about how you need to exercise more.

2.  Finally, something gets you going.  First day is hard, but you’re feeling good that you started.

3. Sheer perseverance keeps you going, and it starts to feel good and you want to do it.

4. It starts to feel great, and you think “Why did it take me so long to start doing this?”

5. Some minor interruption happens (company visits, illness, vacation, etc.)

6.  Exercise habit is stopped in its tracks.

7. Back to #1.

Sound familiar at all?  I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me, and it is frustrating!  It doesn’t seem to matter how long the #4 stage happens – if I’ve done it consistently for a week, a month, or even a year.  I can so easily get off track.

This weekend, my husband and I had the chance to experience FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember.  It was a wonderful chance to get away together and really focus on our marriage – the good parts and the “needs improvement” parts.

One of the major “ah-ha” moments – and it wasn’t exactly news – is that again, we’ve drifted away from carving out time to be “us.”  Way too much of our time is spent on the kids, outside pursuits (work, volunteering, etc) and we just take one another for granted.  And I realized that we’ve been through the “exercise cycle” when it comes to taking time for one another.  We know we need to do it – it feels GREAT when we get in the habit – and somehow life intervenes and we stop.

Then yesterday I spoke with a friend about needing the discipline of a structured Bible study to really spend the time with God that I want to.  And wouldn’t you know – that SAME crazy cycle came up in our conversation?

Where do you see that crazy cycle in your life?  Exercise, eating right, relationships, organizational habits, etc.  And if you’ve been successful in eliminating the cycle and making some permanent lifestyle changes, I’d love to hear how!

(And if you’re wondering – no, I haven’t broken the running habit.  I’m in the middle of Week 6 of C25K!  Although I will confess that I skipped out on The Shred today due to my cold…)

Finally, I can’t say enough about Weekend to Remember.  We went with 3 other couples, and all 8 of us are in solid agreement that it has set us on a new trajectory for our marriages.  It’s that good.  If you need the chance to reconnect with your spouse, go RIGHT NOW and find when the next conference will be near you.  It is so worth the investment.  (And if you decide to do it – before you register, contact me for a group code that will give you a big discount!)

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A Perfect Example

Sports is a big part of our lives these days.  I’d venture that the majority of us have at least one child practicing and playing at least one sport throughout the year.

I’ve been around soccer for many years with Andrew, my 14-year-old stepson.  He started “travel” soccer at age 7.  We’ve seen lots of games.  And year by year, as he’s grown older, we’ve seen it become more competitive.

How can I tell it’s more competitive?  Sure, by the talent we see on the field.  But mostly – from the tempers that flash from the players and the parents on the sidelines.  I have to give credit to the coaches; most of them keep themselves together.  But for parents who are instinctively protective, it’s no-holds-barred when it comes to yelling at the opposite team or a ref when they see something they don’t like.

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, I’m guessing you’ll hear today about the Detroit Tigers pitches who was denied a perfect game.  Quite frankly, the 1st-base umpire just blew a call.  You can see it on YouTube – there’s no question that at the final out of the game, the batter hits a ground ball and is thrown out at first base.  And the ump calls him safe.

The way that Armando Galarraga responds is beautiful.  He smiles.  He doesn’t throw a tantrum; he just acknowledges that no one is perfect.  He gives that umpire wonderful grace, and celebrates in his heart that he knows he just pitched a perfect game.  He did his job, and that’s enough for him.

As I send my kids out onto the playing field, he’s the perfect example for my kids for his depth of character, his graciousness.  It’s a spirit that I would love to see pervade youth sports.

For a similar perspective, and a link to the video, see here:

Teel time – dailypress.com

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Why on earth am I doing this?

On Friday, I’m going to ask my body to do something I’m pretty sure it has never done.  Not in my whole life.  To run for 20 straight minutes.

I know to some of my friends, that’s a nice simple jog around the neighborhood.  Not for me.  I have always hated to run – even in high school when I was relatively fit.  Now I’m 20 years older and 60+ pounds heavier.

So, in my brain is the same question that is in the heads of my non-runner friends – “Why on earth am I doing this?”

I could give you some really practical reasons.  There are lots.  Starting with the extra 60 pounds. 🙂  Beyond that, my lack of energy to really enjoy my family some of the time.

One of the biggest pushes I got in this area of health came 3 months ago.  A friend died of breast cancer.  A wonderful, committed mom who loved her kids to the max.  Who left those 4 kids behind, all 11 and under.  A few days later, an article appeared in the newspaper.  Some would call it coincidence, but I know that God put it in front of me that week.  Because I have a family history of breast cancer, it’s the long-term health issue that is most top of mind for me, and He knew I would read it.

I wish I could find the exact article, but the whole thing can be summed up in this statement:  Women who are physically active (I think it said 3-4 days per week for 1 hour) have a 35% reduced risk for breast cancer.

That certainly got me thinking.  But not doing.

About a month ago, I noticed a few friends on Facebook clicking “Like” on the Couch to 5K Running Plan.  Since I’m pretty good at the couch thing, I decided to check it out.

Three days later, a friend and I agreed that we were going to try this thing out.  This was definitely an impulse decision for me, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

The first day was miserable.  But at the end, God was gracious to tell me that it was just where He wanted me.

Since then, He has been revealing to me why.  I have always been a person who has relied on her own strengths to accomplish whatever was in front of me.  I don’t like to ask questions, and I don’t like to show weakness.  I’ve had pride in my abilities and achievements.

Over the last few years, God’s been working on me, transforming me to look at those abilities and gifts as from Him and for Him.  My energies have begun to turn to what I can do for Him, not for me.  But it’s still been largely about what I can do.

So, He’s using running to show me what HE can do, if I will follow Him.  Trust Him to work through me.  Turn to Him to sustain me through every step – and sometimes it literally takes asking Him to help me get through every step of that run.

If you had told me a month ago that I would be able to run 5 minutes straight, I would have laughed in your face.  I could barely run the distance between two houses.

Ask me today, and I’ll tell you that I CAN run 5 minutes straight, because it is God working through me, giving me the power to do what pleases Him. (Phillippians 2:13).  And I hope that on Friday I’ll tell you that I CAN run 20 minutes straight.  I will continue to trust in Him, because if I do, I will run and not grow weary. (Isaiah 40:31)

That’s why.

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