One of the elements of life that running has taught me is patience. I am not a fast runner, nor a terribly good runner by any metric, the best I can say about myself is that I am consistent—that is to say I plod along diligently putting in the time. Partly this is because I am not one to needlessly hurt, I know there is more than enough pain in the world, and life is hard enough as it is, and sometimes getting out the door for a run is a drag and so I do not feel compelled to run until my lungs burn or my legs are shaky and even the slightest hill or upward step is a pain. I just sort of plod along making sure my heart rate is up and that I spend enough time in a given week or month doing so, I am not racing anyone, not even myself—as the apostle Paul might say.
I am what you might call a lazy runner, insofar as such a being exists.
The result of this is that I do not enjoy a lot of progress, my distances for individual runs are not growing and my speeds are holding fairly steady, maybe my heart rate is dropping a bit. My running is exceptional only to the non-runner:)
The main result is that the results don’t matter, the journey, or the process itself, does. Of course, I get to enjoy a certain fitness level by virtue of the miles I log, and get to eat a bit more food than I otherwise could without adding pounds that I would have to carry with me everywhere I go, but really it is the logging of them there kilometres that is the point.
In the process I have had many experiences. I have had deep spiritual moments running, I have been so in tune with my breath at times I think I am on to something special, other times my mind is utterly blank as I run and I couldn’t tell you what I “thought about while running” even if you offered me a lifetime supply of Eliud Kipchoge’s running shoes. I have had deep and vulnerable conversations with friends, God, and even myself, opening up and admitting things I normally would not. Sometimes I have worked out hard relationships, untied knotty scenarios of life or work by ruminating as I jog. Sometimes I just enjoy the sights smells and sounds around me, I am particularly fond of seeing the sun rise and the landscape wake up—so to speak. Often I have seen owls, elk, deer, peacocks, turkeys, raccoons, eagles, fish, etc.
I share this because one of the things I have heard and noticed is that many people seem to have a vision for the end of a journey, what it will be like when they retire, or when their kids leave the house and go to university (multiple assumptions in that one:) or how fit/fast they will be and how far they will go (hello marathon) if they get running. The gap between where they are and their vision of where they want to be is too wide and the progress towards it, whether they work super duper hard and burn their lungs or take a slower more sustainable approach working at it bit by bit day by day, progress can be too slow, and we give up.
The gap is a real hurdle in health, it is also a real hurdle in faith. Sometimes we see others who appear so holy, faithful, prayerful, knowledgeable in scripture, that we are intimidated, will we ever get there? And if not, why bother at all? I know we think this because I often meet people who I sense are far more holy, in whom God is clearly working ad they can (at no fault of their own) make me want to give up any pretence of being holy.
The theological answer is that Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit make us holy. The pragmatic answer is that we each have our own path to walk. We have unique journeys that have brought us to where we are in faith (and health) and likewise we have unique routes to take going forward. Whatever you choose to do you are on a path, there is really no standing still. It is more a question of which direction you are heading.
My suggestion is to not get caught in the gap between where you are and where you wish you were or where you want to be. Who are you today and who do you want to be? Want to be a runner? Go for a run, it is truly that simple. Want to be a prayer warrior? Say a prayer. You get the idea.
If you start, please remember that the journey itself is a huge part of the point. In other words, be patient with yourselves and your progress, we too often overestimate what we can do in a day or 6 months and radically underestimate what we can do in 5 years (if we get started that is).