I’ve been running a lot lately. So much so, that I’m even beginning to enjoy it. I know…it sounds crazy. It’s actually getting to the point, though, where I have that little itch if I don’t get out each day and hit the road. It was hard to pinpoint at first. I thought I was just getting sleepy or irritable or restless…maybe even anemic. Turns out my body just wanted the exercise, because once I got outside and got moving, I came fully awake and alive.
I’ve written about running here on the blog before, my love/hate relationship with the daily grind. But I’m not sure I’ve ever told you about one of my running rules. So here goes, get ready to get educated:
Running Rule #454 – Never stop at the top.
When I run, I open up my front door and just go. I don’t have a path or routine that I follow. I never really know how long or far I’m going. I just figure it out along the way. Wherever I go, though, I try to find a hill. A good one. At least once along my route, I want to encounter something difficult that will me push me to fight and grind. And when I get there, I do my best to follow my rule every time: never stop at the top.
When you’re incredibly tired and worn and beat, everything in your body wants to rest at the top of that hill. Your mind begins to beg, your legs begin to give. All of you just wants to lie down. Fetal position. In some stranger’s lawn. Passed out like a frat boy on a Sunday morning. Okay…so you also may be tempted to just walk. Slowly. Very, very slowly. That’s what’s wanted. But not what’s needed. What’s best is another thing altogether.
After a big climb like that, your body needs to wind back down at a more continual rate. It needs a light jog and a steady heartbeat. Pushing on, when everything in you urges you not to, is great for the body and the soul. It has to be. It’s science or something. I think. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
Your body loosens back up and finds its stride again. Your soul finds strength, the desire to keep going wins over. And so you keep on, looking for another hill to climb. Searching for the next challenge to bring the most out of you. Always pursuing. Never settling. Never stopping. At least not at the top of a hill.
One of our pastors here at church told me once that he never makes any major decisions on a Monday. The mental and emotional and physical and spiritual toll of teaching and preaching leaves him worn and weary the next day. He allows himself that day to regroup and renew. But as far as I can tell, he doesn’t just stay in bed, pull the sheets over his head, and call it a day. He recognizes the importance of moving forward. Even if this part of the process — the leveling back out on a Monday morning — is different than that earlier part — the long, hard climb to Sunday morning. Monday gets him to Sunday…and Sunday leads him to Monday. But all of it leads him to where he ultimately wants to be.
That’s a man who knows where he wants to be. And he does something to get there. But what about us? Do we know where we want to be? All this talk of “not stopping at the top” dismisses an important question: are you even running in the first place? And if you are running, are you challenging yourself in the process as well? Are you running up hills?
If you want to be stronger, you have to fight to get there. Faithfully. Regularly. Daily. Maybe you need some more prodding. Here’s a few more questions to get you going…
Where are you facing hills that make you want to stop climbing?
What’s creating in you a desire to give up and give in?
When are you stuck at your lowest when all of you could be climbing to its highest?
I have my list. I could even write them out, right here, right now. I’m even tempted to. But instead, I’m going to keep running. Not from heartache and hardship, but thru heartache and hardship. Not fleeing or flying but pursuing and persevering. Friends, if there’s one quality I’d love to be known for, it’s that I’ve been faithful. Full of faith. Faith is believing without seeing. But it’s also a rugged commitment to keep on going. Grinding out instead of giving in.
When you climb your hill today or tomorrow or next week or next month, and you will climb your hill, don’t stop at the top. Keep running. Keep your blood pumping. Keep your heart alive and well. Fully engaged and full of life.
Monday taking you to Sunday. Sunday taking you to Monday.