A year ago I was not a runner. I was not a huge walker. I was not very active. A year ago a friend of mine was running across Iowa in the MS Run the US. He ran a total of 325 miles. All I could think while I was cheering him on through social media was how amazing he was for doing this and how there was no way I could ever do that. That was when I found the app called “Charity Miles” – you go on and choose the charity, then walk or run, and it logs your mileage and gives to your charity based on your miles. So I told him that I would never run for MS, but I would do what I could and walk! Ha, little did I know God’s plan for me in the next year!

My running story is just an ordinary story, ordinary training, ordinary person – but it’s been filled with joy, hope and a presence of God I never imagined possible!

At the end of August I went to the doctor where I was told that my cholesterol was still out of control and the only way to change the numbers was to do some serious exercise or add medication. Walking wasn’t going to cut it, I needed something more. I felt defeated. As the weekend approached and we got ready to go camping, my husband looked at me and said “are you taking your bike or are you starting to run?” I didn’t believe in myself – he told me “if your sister and I can do it, you can do it!” Well, that’s the opposite of what I’ve been told my whole life when it comes to anything athletic. So I downloaded a couch-to-5K app as I walked out the door to go camping for Labor Day weekend. Little did I realize how much that one last minute download as I walked out the door would change my life!

For my first “run” I was out for 28½ minutes – 5 minutes of walking to warm up, and then one minute of running followed by 1½ minutes of walking (x8), then a 5 minute cool down. Each of those one minute runs I thought I might die, but I didn’t and I kept moving forward. Then during week 8 of my training I was to run for 28 minutes straight. I started crying halfway through my first run that week because I remembered that first day in September when I wasn’t sure that I would make it through 28 minutes with only 8 of those minutes running, and on this day I was running 28 minutes straight through! In that moment I realized just how far I had come! That was not the first, nor the last moment of grace I have experienced in this journey!

Since that first “run” in September I have logged many miles. For me running has become the answer to a prayer that I have had on my heart for years. Over the last several years I have watched my weight go up as I have become more inactive and as a result I have felt distance between me and God. My body was made to be a temple; I am to be the feet and hands of Christ on this earth. My body and inactivity held me back from being the person God made me to be. When I would reflect on the 10 Commandments with the youth in classes in Marshalltown, or in my own examination of conscience, I would pause on #5 thou shall not kill. I wasn’t caring for my body in the way God intended, so was I slowly killing myself through inactivity and an attitude of indifference? I felt I had my mind and heart in the right place with God, my study and prayer life were good, but there was something missing and I found that missing link when I started to run. Truly there is a body, mind and heart connection and they all needed to be in sync!

I went back to the doctor for a cholesterol check in March and was terrified. If my numbers did not come back improved enough I was afraid I would feel defeated again and give up on running. But, my numbers all looked great! YAY!

I ran my first 5K on April 1. For me that was huge. I went to pick up my race bag the night before and was suddenly faced with the old voices in my head that told me I wasn’t an athlete, I would humiliate myself, etc, etc. I considered not going. Two things made me go: One, a friend who knew I was doing this volunteered at the 5K – so as they say, when you partner up and you know someone is expecting you you’re more likely to follow through, and second I was on Facebook that night and an ad for running pants showed up on my feed. The pants had a picture of a turtle and the saying “I Run, I may be slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but I RUN.” It made me laugh and reminded me that running isn’t about anyone but me, me and God. So I ran my first (and so far only) 5K and survived!

Now, I run about three times a week and on my non-run days I have a variety of other workouts I do. I just started a new app, a 5K-to-10K, just to keep pushing me harder to grow in endurance and speed. I listen to Christian music when I run and often have interesting conversations with God as a result. Like one day I was miserable and hadn’t gone far, so I decided instead of running my usual I would turn around at the next corner and head home. Suddenly there is a line in the song that tells me not to turn around but to keep moving forward. I laughed, thanked God for the inspiration and encouragement, and ran my usual run. Recently, I was running my best time in a long time and fell. I got up, dusted myself off and thought ‘hey, I could still make it my best time’ so I started running again, and the music reminded me that sometimes we fall, but we get back up and keep going. When I run it’s about me, me and God. He runs with me!

One of the reason’s this book “Running – a Sacred Art” caught my attention is that since I began this journey just 9 months ago, I have found many parallels between running and spirituality. Although I do a lot with my mind and heart to grow in faith and love, I’m coming to see the body as another wonderful way to grow in faith and love! So excited to have you on this journey with me during the month of July! Follow the blog as I log about the book and share pieces of my story as we go!

So, I’ve told you my initial story, I’d love to hear yours… When did you start running/walking? What was your inspiration to begin? How is God a part of your running/walking?