I introduced Jane Reneau yesterday, so today I’ll add just one tidbit of biographical information. Janie turned 30 on January 5, 2010 — and celebrated by running 30 miles. [She didn’t run 31 this year, though.] This got me wondering (about an incredibly unimportant question): At what age are human beings generally in the best position to run in miles the number of years they’ve lived. I know my daughter’s completely unprepared to run 1.1 miles today. And my mom won’t be running 39ish miles on her next birthday. The longest I’ve ever run at one time is 31 miles, and I turn 34 next month. Any ideas? I’m guessing around 22-25…
The other day I was running with a close friend of mine and we were talking about running, training, and racing. As we talked about strenuous training plans and how to stay focused even when we begin to lose steam, she paid me one of the biggest compliments I could receive. She said, “Jane you actually enjoy running. You really love it.” She confessed that sometimes she did not like it and did not want to go, but that in talking to me, reading my blog, etc. she could see someone who actually liked running just for the sake of running.
This is true. I absolutely love running. When I don’t run first thing in the morning, I find myself looking forward to the moment when I can sneak out of the office and get in some miles. I stare at the clock until it says 5:00pm and then I am out the door, impatient to get home and hit the streets. And then when I am running…I cannot explain with the words in our language how much joy it brings to me.
I love the feeling of my muscles working as I pick up my pace or run up a hill. I love feeling my heart and lungs work to take in oxygen and send it to my limbs. I love a good sweat. I love being outside with the cold air of winter whipping past my ears or the thick morning heat of summer as I race the rising temperatures. And the sunrises… I have witnessed a thousand and each one is unique and gorgeous, almost causing me to pause just so I can stare at it…almost.
Not only do I love the activity itself, but I love what it does for the rest of my life. Let’s talk about blood pressure, cholesterol, sickness, disease, metabolism rate, body image and energy levels. My mom has been a runner since the age of 36. She is now 61 years old and when she goes to the doctor for her regular checkup, he is amazed at her blood pressure and cholesterol levels. He claims to have never seen anyone with such low bad cholesterol levels and high good cholesterol levels. He is blown away by her numbers.
Out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, 5 of them are nutrition related with heart disease, cancer and stroke being in the top 3, followed by diabetes at number 6 and kidney disease at 9. This means that by simply leading a healthy life of exercise and eating right, you can avoid some horrible diseases, not to mention enjoy an amazing quality of life while you are here on this earth.
Being strong, healthy and fit not only provides for a wonderful physical existence, it affects your mental and spiritual state as well. The endorphins released during exercises like running can be used to fight depression and other psychological disorders. So what do you suppose they do for someone without these? The idea of going for a run when feeling stressed or anxious is not without good cause. These endorphins (sometimes referred to as “runner’s high”) can affect your overall mood throughout the day, which will affect how you view yourself, others, and anything you may face throughout your day.
For me, I find that it makes it easier to look beyond the little things in this life or even the bigger things that seem to overwhelm and to see the joy and the peace that often get pushed aside for the worries of this world. It may sound silly, but I’ve always felt that being a runner has drawn me closer to my Creator and King. Not only does it clear the mind of thoughts that don’t belong there, allowing it to be filled with thoughts from Him, but I like to think He takes joy in seeing me use what He has given me to the fullest. Sure, a lot of it is simply for me and maybe selfishly so. But there is rarely a run completed that I don’t feel truly and humbly grateful for the experience. As long as I am able, I will continue to run and to thank my God for all the joy it brings to my life.