Wednesday, June 28, 2006

holding back

My morning runs have gotten a little better, a little easier. This morning, for instance, I found myself wanting to run faster, but I knew I needed to conserve my energy. I kept telling myself, "No, just relax. Hold back. Wait." I'd give myself another half mile before picking up the pace.

Now, I'm not a fast runner by any standard and my top speed is probably what most people use as a warm up. But at certain points during my runs I find my groove; that moment when my form is at its best, my breathing is steady and controlled. I can feel every part of my body moving just as it should. It's at that very moment I feel as though I can do anyting. I want to go faster and longer. And just when I think I've got myself convinced, a bead of sweat rolls down into my eye and I have to reach up and wipe it away.

Just this small adjustment causes me to get a little off balance. I have to correct my stride, careful not to fall off the treadmill. And then I realize I've lost that feeling of control. My breathing is faster. My legs feel heavy and my shoulders are tense. I relax. Concentrating, first, on my breathing, then shoulders, hips, legs, feet. Aligning myself, trying to get back into that goove. Feeling my way to that comfort zone.

My mind wonders and I begin to consider how running compares to my life. How I always want to be doing more, but know I can't do it all at once. I want to teach at church, but with school and work I can't devote the time required to teach a class. I have to wait. Hold back. The time will come.

There are days when I feel on top of everything. Things are going well and the future is looking brighter. Then something will happen. The kids are fighting, my husband gets called out of town, or someone says just the thing that ticks me off and I lose my balance, lose control, get out of my comfort zone.

"God, why can't life just go along at a smooth and easy pace? Why do things always happen to throw us off balance?" Well, if it was always easy, you'd never grow or build your strength for those hills up the road.

I look down at the display on the treadmill. Another half-mile. My breathing is steady, shoulders relaxed, stride is smooth. I reach up and hit the button to increase my speed.

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