Monday, July 1, 2013

Lies My Treadmill Told Me

I hate running. 

It’s not that I’m bad at it, per se. I ran a 5K (3.1 miles) last summer. I was actually invited to be on the cross-country team for my former college. I even ran a couple of miles just last week.

But still I hate running.

If there’s anything I dislike more than running, it’s running on hills. My legs get weak, I can’t breathe, and it feels like that hill is only getting bigger with every step I take. “Who is moving the top farther away?” I scream. Or, at least I would scream that, if I had any air to spare for my vocal cords. Unfortunately, when you live in upstate New York, there aren’t many places to run that don’t have hills. My road even has “Hill” in its name—case in point!

Because of this, a good deal of the running I’ve done has been indoors, on a treadmill. I like having control over my exact speed, knowing exactly how far I’ve gone, not having to worry about traffic, and—the best part—watching episodes of my favorite TV shows to keep my mind off the pain in my legs and lungs. I also like the fact that I control the incline, and I usually give it just enough of a slant to make it challenging, but not uncomfortable.

But there’s one giant lie the treadmill tells me—something I’ve believed subconsciously for years: Hills only ever go up.

Last week, as I was running on my rural road, I’d just conquered yet another of the numerous hills between me and a cool shower and was coasting down the other side. That’s when I realized something extremely profound:

Every hill I run up has a downhill side.

Wow. Rocket science right there. Seriously!

WAIT! There really is a point to this! See, I’ve been so used to the constant uphill of the treadmill, I’d forgotten that in real life, the road doesn’t only slant upwards. The mistaken belief that hills only ever go upwards made me subconsciously shy away from even the thought of going running on my hilly road.

Sometimes I think we have a treadmill in our minds called “the future.” We think about all the difficulties we’re going through at the moment, and we assume that it will always be an uphill battle. That we’ll always face these problems, or similar ones. Maybe it will get a little better, maybe we’ll even get to run on flat for a while, but there’s never a downhill—an easier stretch—in our minds.

As a Christian, I believe life’s like running a race. It’s never necessarily going to be perfect, and it will seldom be a breeze. But that’s ok! Jesus hasn’t called me to an easy-chair Christian. (Ironically, guess where I’m sitting right now?)

Paul says in one of his letters to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize!” (1 Cor. 9:24).

We should never give up and stop running altogether, but as we push ourselves to the top of that next hill, refusing to quit, we also need to remember that there’s an easier stretch on the other side. There is relief. There is hope.

And hope is often the only fuel that can keep us running for one more mile.

Like running--or, reading about it, at least? Check out these other race-themed posts!

1 comment:

  1. This cracked me up... and I hate treadmills. Not because I don't need to be on one, but probably because I so desperately need to be on one.

    Good writing, good thoughts