Things will change

All winter I’ve thought about not running anymore. I have been ready to concede to age and weather and fatigue; to larger pants, bigger shirts, and comfy chairs.

It started in September (which is technically fall and not winter, but a season aptly named) when the rush of school and sports swallowed up our days, and when daylight savings stole my investment. Exercise is just one more thing and if it’s not enjoyable in the first place, it makes it really hard to prioritize. Amen?

I have run fairly consistently between births and sickness for about 18 years now. I say fairly consistently because every winter I inevitably slow down with the weather. I forget this though.

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My winter running slump has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, almost as if my winters have gotten longer. I am not a hot weather person, but I’ve aged into even less of a cold weather runner. Especially wet-cold, which is our signature here in Oregon. 

So I don’t like hot and I don’t like cold and I really just wanted to transition this winter, shift down, become a walker. Because if I walk I won’t be cold and wet?

Over our Thanksgiving break my husband had some time off and for several days, he and I hiked the woods around our home. It was a mix of walking and running and jumping, like kids at recess. It was lovely and invigorating, and I really wanted this to be my new hobby - heck with running. These mountain hikes were peaceful and I was in a season of needing more peace.

I practically threw in the towel. I basically ran just enough this winter to make it difficult every time, because once-a-week runs don't do much more than hurt your legs and burn your lungs and make you sore the next day.

I forget that I go through this almost every year. 

Because I forget, I get discouraged. I feel myself slipping away and I worry that I might not climb out of the hole I'm digging, because it's too hard and too painful and I am really just ok with things this way. But I'm not.

I see spring coming now, like a savior. It's still cold; it's possible it will snow; but it's beautiful. Daylight savings is promising to return what it stole and the kids will start track soon.

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I ordered my new running shoes this weekend and I’ve upped my mileage just slightly. I have been running off-road this winter and taking my son’s dog along (she's a joyful beast!) leaving the watch at home, listening to podcasts instead of motivational music. But last week I took the Garmin out for a few miles and yesterday I finished  up a run with some Switchfoot, both of which make me feel more like a runner, less like a quitter.

Spring is coming and everything is changing. I forgot that would happen, when the dead of winter chilled and comfort appealed and all I wanted was another cup of coffee. And cookies.

If I had a dime for every "running is like..." cliche. 

We've heard it enough, but cliches become cliches because they're just so darn true. It's just so true that keeping our souls healthy is similar to keeping our bodies fit.

And just like I forget that I go through seasons of running like the earth goes through seasons of weather, I also forget that the place my soul is in will change.

Sometimes going backwards scares us enough to lurch forward, to whip ourselves into shape, to discipline our body or our soul into obedience. But unlike my body, my soul thrives on grace and the work of someone else, and I need to remind myself of that. Trying harder can help my body but it doesn't always help my soul. 

Sometimes my soul just has to wait for its own spring.

I got soft this winter and grew a little in places I didn't want to grow. I'm not worried about a few pounds as much as I am about giving up. I don't ever want to give up, even if I need to change things a bit and make adjustments to my expectations.

We have to press-on through our falls and winters, keeping the clock wound and ready for a new season.

That's what I've learned from going backwards a little. Just another running-is-like-our-spiritual-walk analogy for you.