Tag Archives: healthy-living

Four Lessons for Joyful Habits

Today I reached 100.

100 days of consecutive running.

Grandma's 06 smile

During this streak I learned four lessons about healthy habits.

Turn disappointment towards joy

I used as motivation the disappointment I felt last September when I was unable to register for the Boston Marathon. (Read more here. )

My disappointment was the initial start to my running streak, but I knew that such motivation could only take me so far. I knew that I had to have an interior attitude of joy and thanksgiving towards running and NOT simply a “I should do this” attitude. Almost anyone can start a healthy habit or discipline; it is staying the course when the mind/body/spirit begins to resist the habit for a variety of reasons: “I am too busy with work” or “I don’t feel like running today” or “The weather outside is too cold.”

Focus on joy of the habit

527355_10150757438158830_723953829_9331133_942278610_nFor me, running has been a source of joy, especially when I am dealing with stress or disappointment. I enjoy the movement through space (especially if it is outdoors along a scenic trail) or the camaraderie I experience running with friends. I know that not all runs will be filled with joy or endorphins, but many will be.  I need to lace up my shoes and start running to discover if it will happen.

Keep the habit simple and flexible

My running streak did not require me to run huge miles every day. I needed to do at least a mile, but once I got started I usually did more. I averaged 4.1 miles per day.

I also kept it flexible. I originally thought I would do all my running outdoors, but in early December we had some nasty ice and cold so I joined a local gym and did my running on a treadmill. It was not my first choice, but I prefer to be safe and steady.  I still go outdoors when the weather permits.

The joy flows into other areas.

Learning to Pray Anew

Rolling into Prayer

I have discovered that my best time to run is early in the morning. Then afterwards, I allow the joy to flow into my time of prayer and meditation. I have created a small holy space in my home where I have my Bible and devotional reading so that I can easily shift gears and focus my mind on my life of faith in Christ. I am learning to be silent and still, listening for God’s still quiet voice (I Kings 19:12).

I recognize that someday this running streak will end, but for now it has been a healthy habit that bring joy to my body/mind/spirit.

What habit brings you joy?

Lord Jesus, guide me into habits that honor you.

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Running Lessons

One key aspect of running is its simplicity. All I need are a pair of running shoes and workout clothes to go for a run. I don’t need any other equipment, gym or teammates to have a quality run. I simply need to get myself dressed and out the door.

Of course that simplicity can turn running into a stale routine, even a rut. I can run the same route at the same pace at the same time everyday. (One reason I avoid treadmills is that I find them to be so boring.)

To break up the routine, I enjoy running with a group on Saturday morning. For years the St. Andrew’s Running Club has blessed me with great running companions. Most of the runners are not members of the congregation and even though I have moved on to a new and wonderful congregation at Resurrection Lutheran, the Running Club welcomes me back on occasion to run with them. What I appreciate during these run are the lessons I frequently learn. This morning’s run was especially rich.

Lesson #1 dress properly: The weather has turned colder in Minnesota this week and overall I had the proper gloves, hat and running tights for the chilly morning. However as we started out, I noticed that my neck and chin were almost numb. I also notice nearly everyone else wearing either a turtleneck or neck gaiter to stay warm. Over the years my running mates have taught me several lessons about shoes, socks, tights, shorts, shirts, jackets and hats.

Lesson #2 change of pace: One of the reasons I like to run with others is that it is a change of pace. Sometimes slower, but often faster as it was this morning. Our six-mile run challenged my aerobic system, even as we chatted about films, marathons, books, children and life.

Lesson #3 companions: In recent months I have discovered that I have occasional episodes of tachycardia where my heart rate suddenly jumps 40+ beats during exercise.  I have discussed it with my doctor and together we developed a plan so I could continue running. Today I had two episodes; I immediately did my standard treatment of lying down and the heart rate dropped to normal exercise parameters in less than a minute. Each time my friends stopped to see if I was all right and even when I told them to go on (they know about my tachycardia), someone waited. I was never left alone.

Lesson #4 expert advice: This morning Shannon Maixner joined the group. She is the physical therapist who greatly aided my injury recovery over a year ago. After the run, I was showing her some of the exercises I continue to do to stabilize my hip and she graciously shared with me some expert advise on how to do the exercises more effective. Her encouragement and wisdom was one of the highlights of the morning.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding (Proverbs 3:13).

Lord Jesus, teach me your ways.