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.