This article first appeared on www.theprodigalsister.com. You can read more from Brett there, and be sure to follow her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter for the latest updates!
Right away, after my running girlfriends and I finish our stretches and start pounding the sidewalk in our collage of running shoes and swishing jackets, my shins start talking to me. They say, "Hey girl, you might want to give up before you start. This hurts."
Half a mile in and already my legs feel heavy.
I have to will them to keep going. Step by rhythmic step. Running through the twinge that makes me feel like the muscles in my leg are fragile chopsticks. Like at any moment they'll fracture under the pressure of making it to the end of the block.
Then we're one mile down. Six to go. We're running distances that are so foreign to me. Distances that made my head spin just a year ago.
I'd heard rumors of people running this far before. Racers, distancers, insane-people, would talk about their five mile runs. Their 5K races. I could barely make it through one song on my workout playlist. Running that far and wide would never happen for me. I wouldn't even try.
My shins like to remind me of the girl I was before I became a runner. But every time my running buddies and I push through those first few minutes. One of us tells a funny story about their significant other. Or their work. Or we talk about what it means to be a modest woman after the great yoga pants debacle finally died down.
It hurts. It sucks. I hate it. But we're distracted enough to keep going, keep pushing through the winded breath and the dismantled pace our feet haven't caught up with.
And then. We hit two miles.
Two miles and by some miracle, my legs feel lighter. My breathing settles. I can close my eyes and dip in and out of the grooves of the sidewalks and the cobblestone streets near my house. We're bounding, chatting, feeling empowered by the inertia from the very legs that were making me hesitate.
They are the same legs that were about to convince me that running is too hard for today. And that I should just give up. Pop a frozen pizza into the oven and settle into my couch with a glass of wine and a bunch of Mindy Project episodes in my Hulu cache.
The first two miles are always the hardest. They're the miles your knees, your joints, the bottoms of your feet are asking you why, oh why are you putting us through this torture?
But then you hit a pace where you could go on forever. Or, you know, two hours. Whatever you fancy. The next thing you know, a woman who could barely get herself to the gym is training for her first half-marathon. A year in the works.
Life is the same way, I'm learning.
Or at least life as a 20-something. We've broken out of college. Many of step deeper into the academic world, just to keep in touch with education. An aspect of our time and talents that we took for granted.
Others of us step into careers that aren't idyllic. In purpose or payment. Some of us step into motherhood, wifehood, and struggle and laugh and love deeper than we ever though possible.
Whatever route we take, the first few miles into adulthood are hard. Our minds, our finances, our family responsibilities are strained. Sore from the leading expectations. Our breaths are mismatched. We're finding our place. Our groove.
We're finding that spot where we can endure. Where we can push past those first dragging moments of hitting the ground running. We know that it's not going to be easy, we're running a race after all. But we're waiting to climb above the plateau. We're waiting to move past the point where we're not thinking about how far we've come.
We're just focusing on running forward.
It's not just about building endurance. It's not about just squeaking by in life. It's about living on the other side of the brim. It's about overflowing into life with love and gentleness, and a passion for sharing the love of Christ: whatever form that looks like in your life.
If you're stuck. If getting out of bed, paying your bills, caring for your family, or loving your neighbor today seems hard, might I suggest that maybe you're in those first two miles.
My advice? Wherever you are, whatever you're doing in your life: dating, attending church, writing a novel, paying bills, seeking meaningful living in a world run by Twitter followers and gas prices:
Give it another two miles.