Thursday, January 3, 2013

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter (Exit) Here...

In the first part of Dante's epic poem Divine Comedy, titled Inferno, Dante draws a picture for us of Hell.  At the gates of Hell is a sign which reads, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." 

Analogically, it is befitting for those who have taken upon themselves a Resolution or Goal to become a runner (or engage in any other fitness related activity) during 2013.  Once you step through the door, reason needs to leave your mind.  You are embarking on the path of running just because you can.  Covering endless miles on varied surfaces for the sheer enjoyment and challenge of it.  You need to place a sign on the inside of your door stating "Abandon all hope, ye who EXIT here."  You will consider yourself insane once you see the cumulative miles add up, but you will also smile knowing that not too long ago you would have never considered it possible.

We are at the start of a long journey.  Becoming a runner doesn't happen over night (though even with your first run, you can start calling yourself a runner!!).  It takes time to develop your mind and body to the point where (the majority of) the pain is not so frequent or possibly debilitating.  It takes time to convince yourself that it is ok to be a little selfish and have some alone time with the open road. 

I fully understand this transition.  I am currently engaged in this transformation once again. 

As a younger man, I was in the military.  And, while I ran often and recorded some decent times and distances, I never considered myself a runner.  I engaged in the activity simply because I was compelled to participate.  After the Army, I stopped until I needed to condition my body to prepare for the rigors of the law enforcement academy I attended when I was selected for my current employment.

Again, after the forced aspect of participating in a regimented physical training program, I fell back to my old ways of nothingness.

In February 2009, with my life in pretty much  rubble around my feet, I made a spur of the moment decision to enter a 10K run with no training or preparation.  I did surprisingly well, all things considered, and suffered for my decision for weeks afterward.  I was unable to walk without pain for a long time due to going from 0-60 without the benefit of training or even stretching.

But it did something to me.  With the weight of my troubles on my mind, I started moving and everything clicked into auto-pilot.  I didn't have to think, I just had to put one foot in front of the other.  The body knew what needed to be done.  It gave me a sense of accomplishment and helped me see that I could enjoy running for the cathartic aspect of it.

Since that time, while I was still a pretty inconsistent runner and prone to minor injuries due to improper shoes for me, form, and a litany of other things, I have successfully completed several other 10K races and a half and full marathon.  I am still (as of December 31, 2012) inconsistent (changing that for 2013!!!), but I desire to be able to look at myself in the mirror and with a straight face, say, and mean, "I AM a runner!"

For more information on starting a running lifestyle, a great resource is the Beginners section of the Runners World web site.  It is chocked full of interesting articles and tips to help you make the transition.  Enjoy, and in the words of the wonderful former contributor to Runners World John Bingham (author of the Penguin Chronicles), "Waddle On!".

Goals Check:
Read through the ESV Bible chronologically.
Today's Reading: Gen 8-11
The Flood Subsides
God's Covenant with Noah
Noah's Descendants
Nations Descend from Noah
The Tower of Babel
Shem's Descendants
Terah's Descendants

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House
Third day of this challenge.  So far I have covered XX miles and have set aside $1 for each mile to my jar saving it up to contribute to the Hope House at the end of the year.  I am still working out the kinks of a prolonged departure from running and look forward to the day that it all falls into place again and I once again experience the dopamine-induced "euphoria" which comes with a run well-completed.

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