The strangest thing happened to me a few months ago. I felt an unexpected desire bubble up in me — the desire to hear my feet clap against the sidewalk, to push myself, to feel exhilarated. I felt the desire to run.
Weirdly enough, it kept coming back. I’d wake up in the morning with a bizarre urge to lace up my tennis shoes, head out the door and not come home until I was covered with sweat.
What was happening to me?
Embracing a New Hobby
Working out has never been high on my list of interests. (Until recently, it was never even ON my list of interests!) I enjoy being active in some regards — such as a leisurely hike or a game of ultimate Frisbee. But the image in my head of what working out involves (treadmills, push ups, weight machines and protein smoothies) has zero appeal to me. The occasional seasons of working out I’ve endured have had everything to do with my weight and very little to do with my interest in breaking a sweat.
This time around, the random urge to run wasn’t at all related to the number on my bathroom scale. I was carrying around a lot of heartache and anger after losing two children. I needed an outlet for the heavy emotions building up inside of me. What I really wanted to do was throw a bunch of china against a brick wall, but that seemed irresponsible and messy. So, I ran!
Now, I’m not running long distances. Heck, I can hardly make it half a mile before I start to think I’m going to pass out! I run with my dog, and we do alternate between jogging, sprinting and walking. Sometimes we wear ourselves out and have to collapse on the grass to catch our breath. I count it a win if I get my booty outside — whether we go for one mile or three.
I started running simply to have an outlet for my negative feelings. But I also find I have a brighter outlook on my day when I’ve accomplished a workout, and I tend to have more energy overall (though I might be tired for a half hour or so immediately after a run). I didn’t anticipate any weight loss or body changes, but I’ve happily lost a few pounds! It’s rewarding to see positive changes in my lifestyle after two dark years of grieving.
Part of what has kept me from trying to run in the past is my wrong perspective that to be a runner I must be able to run for miles without any problem. I have a lot of silly general insecurity about my ability to do anything exercise-related.
Something beautiful happened when I chose to run simply because I enjoyed the rush and not because I was trying to beat a time or achieve a specific distance. I chose to embrace doing something for myself and don’t allow thoughts of comparing my progress with others to creep in and steal my joy.
The best thing that has come out of my decision to start running is the confidence it’s given me to try more things that intimidate me! I recently attended a yoga class for the first time in years, and enjoyed it so much that I now do a 20-minute yoga workout after I get home from my run. I also joined in on a crafting club my artsy friend created, even though I am a terrible crafter! Best of all, I started my own business after dreaming about it for years!
Is there anything you’ve wanted to do, but have been too nervous to try it? Have you said you could never be a cook, but deep down you wish you could be confident in the kitchen? Do you love to dance around your house, but you won’t try Zumba for fear you’ll make a fool out of yourself? (Or am I the only one?) I think the key to truly enjoying a challenge is to pick something that fills you with intrigue and excitement — not dread. I hated the idea of running and the activity itself until I randomly experienced a side of it I had never felt before (emotional release).
Want to join me in embracing a challenge? Here are a few suggestions for something you could try this month:
- Attempt a new recipe
- Organize a room, closet or cupboard
- Take a break from social media — try unplugging after 10 p.m., not allowing yourself to browse during work hours or doing a media fast one day a week
- Write down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each day
- Take a class — have you always wanted to learn golf? Or photography?
- Memorize a verse or poem
- Host a party or start a club — A friend of mine is hosting her first clam bake!
- Write handwritten notes to a few friends
- Volunteer at a non-profit
- Pursue a friendship with someone, even if it feels awkward at first!
- Do a DIY project, such as palette art, personalized magnets or a chalkboard wall
- Do something daring (skydiving? ziplining? rock-climbing?)
What new things have you tried in the past? What do you want to try now? I’d love to hear!
Laura Rennie lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband and constantly shedding dog. She loves reading, writing and playing word games. Her greatest desire is to share Jesus through her words and actions as she learns how to be a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.