I enjoy watching The Biggest Loser on television. OK, that's not true. I enjoy watching The Biggest Loser on nbc.com because there are only about 7 minutes of commercials instead of 40 minutes. I like the show because I love seeing people discover their own potential, discover greatness inside of them, and create a better, healthier lifestyle for themselves.
Since I have watched the show for many seasons, I have begun to imagine the contestant interviews in my head at certain, seemingly relevant times. For instance, yesterday it was pouring rain but I needed to run 4 miles. Since I was already feeling a bit under the weather, I decided to run circles around my basement, just like I had a number of times at the beginning of my marathon training when it was snowing or below 0 degrees outside. There is a nice path that takes me about 15 seconds to cycle through, and I just crank up the music and run on autopilot.
Yesterday, however, all I could think about was how good it felt to be running again after a few days’ rest. Putting my running shoes onto my feet, which are healing from old blisters, actually felt good. Stretching my legs out in my little circular path around the basement felt great. Cranking up the tunes again felt rejuvenating. Yet it was the Biggest Loser statements that kept my mind occupied.
Look how far I’ve come, I thought. When I first started, running circles around the basement felt hard, monotonous, and forever-long. Now this just seems like a few minutes out of my day, the circles are completed faster and more athletically, my shoes are worn in now so my feet feel great. It was like on the Biggest Loser when they repeat their first workouts near the end of the season. What used to be hard, maybe impossible, is quite easy now. They reexamine their old outlook, their old capabilities, and their old limitations. And they appreciate how far they have come.
I, too, am appreciating how far I have come right now. I had never run more than 13.1 miles, and now I have twice. Not only that, but I recognize that I can run much longer and much harder than I ever knew. I know a little bit better what my body needs as far as nutrition and rest and ice and stretching. I look forward to my runs rather than dreading the long ones. I still get nervous about the long runs, but I know I can handle them. I think back to my first long run of 6 miles, think how daunting that was, how long the run seemed. I didn’t think I could do my second long run, 7 miles, and I avoided leaving the house for fear of the run. I hadn’t run over 45 minutes in a long time before those first long runs, and I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now 45 minutes is a short run. My medium runs are longer than those first long runs were, and I have grown used to being out on the roads for over 2 hours at a time. I have found music I love listening to, found a cause I love to think about (Read about supporting Feed My Starving Children here and ChipIn on the right!), found sermons and podcasts I look forward to keeping up with. I have found new routes through old stomping grounds, landmarks I notice each time I pass, and protein drinks I will never make again.
I’ve come a long way, and I recognize that this is just a season in my life. After this marathon, I never have to be in this training mode again. I never have to push myself like this again. But I hope that I do. I hope that this is a new part of my life that I never give up. Running has given me a new sense of sanity, balance, and overall health. I will be student teaching in the fall, and I don’t expect to get much running done during student teaching or my first year of teaching. However, recognize that even in the busy times, it is worth the time to run. The mental and physical effects are worth the 30 minutes or hour out of my day. I want to come back to this place again and again in my life. Each day is an accomplishment, even if I am just checking off that I completed a rest day! (Who knew I would feel accomplished about that?) I highly recommend this running thing to all of you!