People will occasionally ask me if I listen to music through ear phones when I run. The answer: sometimes. If I am grinding out speed work on the track or a hammering a quick paced tempo run, a little “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N Roses or “Rock You Like a Hurricane’” by the Scorpions helps me push to the redline. But if I am running a long wooded trail run, the IPOD stays in the gym bag.
I usually start running the trail before 0500 in the morning. The quietness of the morning is a place of comfort and the solitude, a refuge. The wildlife seems to yet wake from the night’s slumber. The only sounds are of my Brooks Cascadia 3 shoes falling rhythmically upon the dirt trail. My breathing is controlled keeping time to the patter of the feet. After a couple of miles into the run, my body feels incredibly alive and my legs completely refreshed. I am thankful for the peacefulness, the ability to run, the wonderful wooded world that surrounds me. I reflect back to the words of King David of Psalms 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
The sun begins to break the horizon and the birds begin to sound revelry. The sunrise is my favorite time of day; a new beginning, the purging of the old, the refreshing start of things to come. The sweat begins to wash away my shortcomings. I will be running 26 miles today, purified through the exertion. God has made the human body an incredible machine. The long run, at this point, does not seem long enough. The Creator has developed my body to run forever. I have been made perfect in his eyes. The euphoria of running in His creation has come to fruition and for the next 3 hours this will only grow stronger.
At some point in the long run there comes a point when determination and perseverance are the primary traits required to finish what I have started. The euphoria has succumbed to pain and suffering. That is the point, right?... to cause one to grow and growth through pain. One does not improve as quickly through comfort and solace. Doubt encroaches the edges of my mind and finishing the distance is now in question. The legs scream for relief and relief only comes by stopping. Stopping is not an option; who is going to come get me? Only three hours before I was feeling unstoppable, infallible. I was perfectly and wonderfully made. Now my body is beginning to show imperfection, I am not that wonderful.
Running clarifies this conflict. God has made me perfect in His eyes. Yet, this perfection is a far cry from my depiction of perfection. In a short four hours I transform from an individual feeling the pleasure of my Maker to one that is questioning my ability, my limitations. Is that not what God has called me to do? In my weakness, realize that my human frailty calls for dependence on my Creator. Thus the paradox: I am strong when I am weak. I AM fearfully and wonderfully made!...and on, I run.