A few weeks ago, I asked Hannah, “Would you like me to help you learn to run?”
She looked up from her book. “Why would I want to run? You know I hate running. You get sweaty and it hurts.”
Smiling, because I expected this answer, I said, “I know some of your friends are in cross country and since you are going to the junior high next year, I thought you might want to learn to run. I’d hate for you to not join cross country because you think you can’t run. It’s possible for you to learn to run and I’ll help you.”
“Really?” she seems stunned. “You think I could run?”
“Of course you can run. There are training programs that allow you time to build up so it becomes possible. I can help you.”
“So I can join cross country?”
“No, so you know you can do it and you don’t let something hard stop you. If you want to join cross country, that’s fine, but you’ll have to think about what you’re going to give up in order to have time for cross country.”
A few days later she told me she wasn’t interested in joining cross country. “I thought about what you said about giving something up and decided it would probably be reading time. I have too many books I want to read. Would you mind, though, if we still run together? I want to see if I can do it.”
Could there be a better answer than this? We asked Stephanie if she wanted to join us. Since a challenge is involved she didn’t have to think about it. Of course she was in!
The past few weeks we have been gearing up mentally. “You’re going to hurt and you’ll want to quit. We’re not quitters, though. We’ll keep running.”
“Will you hurt?” Steph asked.
“Not like you and Hannah. I’ve been running for awhile and my body is conditioned. I hurt when I started running again, though
. In fact, it hurt so much I still remember it. It’s one of the reasons I keep running. I don’t want to start over again.”
We’ve started and it was hard. Hannah’s feet started clomping 10 seconds in. She moaned on our second round of 60 second jogging; 90 second walking. Stephanie thought she was going to die on the third round. We made it, though.
Round 8 and they were both still going, without the moans. Hannah stopped slapping her feet. Stephanie relaxed her shoulders. They both learned to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. They relaxed a little and began to find their strides. Plus they decided to accept my advice to quit wasting energy on moaning and whining and save it for running.
“I’m so glad I didn’t quit in round three,” Stephanie said.
“I’m glad I didn’t quit in second three!” Hannah said, snorting a laugh that made us laugh too.
“That’s what happens when you keep going even when it’s hard. You find out you can do it.”
Although the excitement of them meeting our goal of running a 5K together is motivation, I am more excited about the training. We get to learn how to prepare our bodies and we get to spend time together and we get to encourage one another. As our runs become more routine, I look forward to letting them in on how running for me is about spending time with God. I can’t wait to share some of my favorite playlists and teach them to pray and help them to memorize scripture. These are the reasons running uplifts me. Not only do I get the chance to see I am made to do hard things, but I also find power and sustenance in the Lord.
Several times each week you can find me running on a country road, sandwiched between my two tall daughters. If you listen closely, you might even hear us reciting 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 —
You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
I don’t know about you, but I”m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
I never knew mothering would look like this. I have to admit, I fee a little spoiled by this unexpected gift of helping my daughters learn to spend time with God.