25 November 2009

A new start and a new goal

Obviously this blogging thing wasn't for me a few years ago. It may not be again now, but at least now I have something to write about: after thinking on it for a few weeks, I've decided to register for the half marathon in Fargo coming up in May 2010. There are at least two reasons why I'm doing this. One is about running. The other is personal.

Even though I'm 6'3" and 185 pounds and look like I should be able to run like a champ, I've never been real committed to running. I've always enjoyed occasionally running, but it wasn't until this fall, as I watched my wife coach a high school cross country team and I read Christopher MacDougall's book "Born to Run," that I was inspired to take it up more seriously. In that book, MacDougall basically takes the entire running shoe industry to task and makes the case that modern running shoes are really bad to run in. In fact, he says that they are to blame for most injuries associated with running today. He does all of this through a highly entertaining (and true!) story about a native tribe of distance runners in the Copper Canyon area of Mexico and a few American ultra-marathoners getting together to compete against each other.

I've never suffered from serious injuries from running (I'm still pretty young, I guess), but the story was so compelling that I just had to get out and run. I also felt inspired to try running in less supportive footwear. I ditched my New Balance cross trainers and began running in my almost three year old pair of Converse All-Star low-top shoes that have basically no support to them. My first time out in them, it was like I was running for the first time. I started running only a mile or two at first to get my body used to running in a new way (basically, you run more on the balls of your feet and not heel really kills your calves at first). As I kept doing it, I began to realize something...the little aches and pains that I usually had after running (most common for me are sore knees, sore back, and shin splints) were completely gone. My muscles were sore, but my joints and back weren't. I was even getting less out of breath while running and I was recovering faster.

After a few weeks of this, I was finally convinced that running without highly supportive shoes wasn't going to wreck my body or land me in the emergency room. So, this last Saturday I decided to push myself farther. I ended up running approximately 5 miles, 2 of them into about a 15-20 mph headwind. If I had tried this before, I would have been exhausted and hobbling around the house for a day or two. Instead, I came back feeling great, and I did it in under an hour. For the first time in a long time I had really pushed myself physically and I loved it. That's when I made up my mind to run this half marathon.

So that's the running side of it, but as usual with me, there's always another two or three or 50 sides to it...

After graduating seminary and starting life as a pastor, I realize that I really need discipline in my life. I probably don't tend to my own faith as much as I need to. There are weeks when I'm reading the Bible every day, but only to write a sermon or lead a Bible study, not specifically for me. There are some days when I pray a lot, but with and for other people, not by myself or for my own concerns. There are lots of times when I feel like I'm just moving from one task to the next without much sense of purpose or direction and I wonder if any of it is really making a difference. I know this isn't unique to me. I know there are a lot of (if not most) pastors who struggle with these things. On top of that, I'm really trying to be a better husband and father. I know I'm not the world's worst by any stretch of the imagination, but I know I could be better.

I know that there's one thing that has really been hindering me from being the best I can be at all of that, and that's a lack of discipline and structure in my personal life. Everything in my life seems so erratic sometimes. Part of that is the nature of my profession, but even the things I can control about my life, I usually choose not to. I stay up too late and don't get enough sleep (like tonight, again), my diet and nutrition fluctuates, my energy level for spending time with my family varies a lot, I exercise only sporadically, I start a blog and then don't post anything for 2 years, and the list could go on. So I'm trying to change, and I'm trying to do it through running. I hope it will teach me to set goals and achieve them by following a regimen and routine. I'm also incorporating my personal devotion/prayer/reflection time into my running, so my ultimate hope is that through all of this I will grow in my relationship with God and with those around me. To steal a phrase from one of my favorite shows, "I'm just trying to be a better person. My name is Bryant."


Ben's Random Rhetoric said...

This is awesome Bryant. There's a lot in there that seems to be resonating with me right now as well. I'll give you a call, because I need to ask you a question related to this post.