Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Running and the Rewards

I recently finished my Personal Progress for Young Women's (a program for the girls 12-18 in our church that as leaders we are invited to do as well) and upon completion of it gave a talk to our Young Women about the benefits of not only working on, but continuing to work on and to actually complete this program.  I had written out a very nice talk with scripture references and quotes from prophets and other important people over the years about enduring to the end and about the many blessings that lay in store for those of us who work diligently do to what Heaven Father has asked of us.  Then, went to the meeting I was supposed to speak at and left my notes at home.

Once realizing that I was flying by the seat of my pants and walking a tight rope without a net I let me mind wander to what's really impacted me this last year while I was working hard to complete this program.  My thoughts seemed scattered, but those who heard it seemed to understand what I was talking about.  The following is along those lines, but a little more thought out and detailed just for you to enjoy.

While being a Stay At Home Mom has it's benefits, this last year I started working at nights for the same company that my husband works for.  His job is far more important than mine, but actually having a job and making a contribution to our family means a lot to me.  After a few months of not sleeping very well and being bogged down with a lot of things, I went to see a doctor to try to figure out what I could do to be less tired and irritable all of the time.  His suggestion was, "Quit your job, sleep, and just be a Mom."  I wasn't very pleased with this seemingly sexists diagnosis.  He also told me that according to my BMI I was "Overweight."  A whole 138 pounds at 5'2" put me into that bracket just barely.

I'd never been called "Overweight" before by anyone, ever.  Especially not some one who's opinion mattered remotely.  I was totally shocked.  I left the appointment confused and drove to Wendy's where I promptly ate a huge bacon cheese burger and debated what my next step was.  After thinking about it and praying about it I decided that it was time to join a gym and take a proactive step towards better over all health.  Weight loss not really being my goal, but having more energy and endurance was important to me.  I was comfortable with myself enough that the numbers didn't matter but the over all performance was lacking a bit, so it was time to do what I could to improve.

I started slow and on the Elliptical machine.  It's a very fluid motion of jogging that is low impact and incorporates your arms as well.  Going a few days a week for awhile really helped me feel much better.  I am disgustingly sweaty and red while exercising, so those around me probably thought I was near death.  After awhile of doing that I was noticing that I did lose a couple of pounds and that I was able to go a little faster and a little farther each time.  I was talking about my accomplishments at work with a few friends of mine and they suggested pushing myself even harder.  It was time to challenge myself just a little more.  I did.  I went faster and further still.

Feeling pretty accomplished I started considering running a race outside.  While looking into that started to realize that running outside in the real world was far different than running on a very comfortable low impact machine.  It was time to advance to the treadmill and work a little harder on real world running.

That first trip to the gym where I moved from the Elliptical to the Treadmill was one that I will never forget!  I had been going about 7 miles in about an hour on the elliptical and feeling like a rock star doing it.  My first treadmill day I barely broke 2 miles and suddenly felt like I was going to collapse.  My knees were sore, my breathing heavier and struggling, pulse racing, I was even more sweaty than before (if at all humanly possible) and I kept feeling as though I was about to vomit at any moment.

Why was this so much harder for me?  I'd been working hard on the elliptical and taking care of myself with eating good foods and drinking lots of water.  I should have been ready, right?  I was completely shocked and utterly confused as I drug myself out of the gym and to work that night.  Once there I started talking to a friend who told me that even though I felt the way I did, I was taking the next step in running and it was a good thing.  I looked at him like he had three heads and just shock mine.  How could this terrible feeling and struggling be a good thing?  I just wanted to go back to feeling amazing about myself on what I'd been doing.  I wanted to run back to my comfort zone.

The next day when it was time for the gym again I debated not going at all.  I talked myself into going and I was just going to go back to the elliptical.  I could do that and be just fine with it.  Then, I remembered that I really did want to progress.  I didn't just want to stay with what I knew was safe and good enough, I wanted to be better.  I wanted improvement.  I wanted to run and not be weary.  So, reluctantly, I took my place at the treadmill for day 2 and turned it on.  Thinking back to when I first started on the elliptical I realized that I needed to start slow and build up to it again, so I did.

While I was frustrated and feeling like I'd taken a step back at first I did realize that I was taking a step forwards.  The steps were just much harder to take and did not come as quickly or as fluidly as they had previously.  Realizing that I could not just go back and had to keep moving forward helped me to accept that I wasn't as fast as the guy next to me and that I didn't look as amazing as the girl down the way doing it either, but I was there and I was doing it too.  Slowly, I have been working to go a little faster and a little further.

One of the biggest helps to me was a comment from a guy who was running next to me.  I speed up super fast and was struggling to keep up with it stomping super hard and taking fast little steps to try to catch up until I had to slow down.  He started talking to me about how when you go faster you need to lengthen your stride so that the impact is easier and that way you can go faster with less strain, especially on the knees.  When I tried this the next day it was insanely different!  I felt like I was running in slow motion.  The motion seemed easier and more natural and even though I was going nearly 6 miles an hour I really did feel like it was in slow motion.  Even though it's easier, I still only go that fast in spurts for a 1/4 mile here and there rotating with going slower and even walking.  This lengthening of my stride helps me to put more ground behind me with each step and make each stride matter than much more.  The key to endurance seems to be pushing yourself when you're ready and knowing when to slow down and regain control of yourself when you realize that the run is getting to be too much for your body.  Now, let me begin my comparison to enduring to the end and to living the gospel.

From the time we are small children or when we are spiritually small children and just learning about the gospel, our Heavenly Father, and everything that being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ is about it seems a little overwhelming, but when taken in small doses it is easier to handle and to get a firm grasp on how it works and who you really are by starting slow and learning along the way with what you are comfortable and what comes easily and naturally to you as you progress and gain strength and knowledge.

It is necessary to progress to a higher level to pull yourself from your comfort zone and truly stretch yourself and be challenged far beyond what you first thought possible, but then realize that even though it's not as easy as you thought it might be that is it more rewarding than you'd ever imagined.  This step in the next level can include pushing to complete Personal Progress, earn an Eagle Scout Award, go on a mission, or even to one day be married and start raising a family with the love and knowledge you have of our Heavenly Father.  For many of us our comfort zones are sufficient, for the Lord they are not.  Simply doing what we have been doing continually and then feeling a little too much pride in what we are doing is a dangerous place to be in.  We need to take the next step to push yourselves, to challenge ourselves, and to try just a little harder to be a little better.  Once we do this, we will in turn learn that life is not easy, but the rewards of pushing ourselves will far outweigh the pain of trying just a little extra.

While I am not a Marathon runner yet, perhaps one day I will be.  Until then, I will continue to work a little more towards my goals and to push myself towards the glory that my loving Heavenly Father has in store for me and for each of us.  I'm not perfect and neither are you.  The point of this life is to learn, to fail, to be forgiven, and to work harder to not fail again.  The challenges of life paired with the Savior and his beautiful Atonement are the purpose of this life.  One day through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears we can and will all be forgiven if we ask and if we honestly try to improve ourselves.  You might not be ready for a marathon yet either, but are you on a casual stroll through the garden, speed walking through the hallways at school, jogging through temptations, or flat out running towards the light and love of our Heavenly Father?

I know it's a lot to read, so thanks to anyone who finished my tangent.  I really do have a strong testimony in this beautiful gospel and a very deep love of my Heavenly Father.  No matter what comes at me in this life and what challenges I am asked to face, I will always know that I am not alone.

1 comment:

chelsea mckell said...

oh val!! i love this post!! thank you for sharing. you're such an inspiration!!