We are in the heart of the Alabama summers. That means it is HOT and HUMID, every day. I mean EVERY DAY. Running in the heat and humidity can be challenging to say the least. This morning was certainly no exception. Just to make it even more fun, today’s run included another “H” — HILLS. I ran with a group from Run University from Trak Shak in Homewood. As always, we had a great group. I have a friend training for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October and her schedule called for 16 miles today. Since the regular group was 10 miles, we met early to run 6 miles beforehand. We had a few friends join us for the early part and finished it before the sun got up good. With the sun coming up, the 10-mile route got warm. We also saw something we haven’t seen in a while around here — the sun. The heat, humidity and hills (specifically the 3 Sisters) made the run challenging, both physically and mentally. The best part was that we all persevered and finished.
After the run, I saw a Facebook post where another friend stated,
Big thanks to [her friends] for helping me get thru my bad run this morning!
It made me think, what constitutes a “bad” run? The more I thought about it, I determined that I don’t believe there is a such thing as a bad run so I replied to the post with the following,
No such thing as a “bad” run. Some may be more of a struggle than others, but we should always appreciate that we have the opportunity to get out and run. It’s the challenging runs that build mental and physical toughness. Celebrate the fact that you persevered and finished in spite of your struggles.
I, along with some of the folks I was running with this morning, did struggle with this morning’s run. I can see how some people could view that run as a bad run. However, I can’t classify the run as “bad” regardless of the challenges. It made me start thinking about some of my past runs that some people might think are bad runs.
The first run I thought about was when I ran the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville in December 2011. I started the race running with friends. Around mile 15, I got an awful pain in my Achilles tendon. For a short time, it hurt so bad I thought I would have to stop at the next water stop to get a ride back to the finish area. I slowed the pace way down and the pain subsided enough that I was able to keep going. Somewhere around mile 21 or 22, I came up on a gentleman walking in a U.S. Army shirt. I decided to stop to walk with him to see if he was okay. At least that was my excuse for taking a walk break. When I asked if he was okay, he said, “Yes. I lost two toes on my right foot because of an IED in Afghanistan and my remaining three toes are trying to cramp on me.” At that moment, I realized my leg didn’t hurt that bad after all. I walked with him for a few minutes more before running on to finish the race. The last three miles were my fastest of the marathon. That man made me realize that my run was not near as bad as I thought it was.
I also thought about the first time I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in October 2010. At one point relatively early in the race, I ran upon four guys running with military backpacks. They were wearing regular running clothes with the exception of the backpacks. As I pulled up alongside them, I noticed one of the men had a prosthetic leg tied to his backpack. The prosthetic had a race bib attached to it. Since I was curious, I asked them about it. One of the men told me their friend they served with got injured in Iraq. He was supposed to run the marathon with them but had not progressed enough with his rehabilitation to be able to do so. The race director told them that if their friend had an official time, he would get a medal. This guy would drop the backpack with the prosthetic down near the mat every time he crossed a checkpoint so that his friend would have all of the necessary splits. They were going to walk the last .2 miles with him to the finish line so he could get a medal. I realized that nothing was going to happen to me during that race that could compare to what their friend had experienced. Even though I fell apart when crossing the bridge going from the National Mall area back to Arlington, I couldn’t help but think about those four men and what they did for their friend.
I could go on and on. I’ve seen people completing races in wheelchairs and know they would change places with me in a minute. When I ran the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in Memphis last December, we ran through the St. Jude Research Hospital complex. There were so many of the kids lining the street wanting us to give them a high five. How much would they have given to be healthy enough to run a marathon or half marathon?
You see, we should be thankful every single time we are able to go for a run. Regardless if it is hot or cold, dry or rainy, a run is something to appreciate. We should appreciate the fact that we are healthy enough to run. We should consider it a blessing that God gives us another day to spend outdoor with friends. It doesn’t matter what happens during the run. We get to run. We get to do something to improve our health. We get to train for another race. We get to push ourselves to see that we are capable of much, much more than we realize. In the end, a “bad” run is ALWAYS BETTER than no run. Don’t take it for granted!
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 ESV)