I get a charge out of you!

I took what was likely my last run before the big run this morning. Maybe I’ll squeeze in another little one Thursday, just for fun. Sunday afternoon I’d had to cut a run short because my Achilles tendon was acting up. I requested prayer from friends and family, rested another day, and woke up thinking I’d like to test that heel. Everything was fine today! No pain. I’m ready for the event!

And I had an audience, waaaaaaayyyyy up in the sky! (Sorry about the grainy picture. I was running. Didn’t really have time for a good zoom.) That was neat.

I smiled and waved, just on the off chance he could see me from up there. Then I looked down at my Garmin and noticed, not for the first time, that after smiling and waving at somebody, I was running faster. A lot faster! And I felt great!

There’s some kind of energy being exchanged here.

It’s odd, but when I’m running alone, after an initial burst, I can urge myself on to a hard pace only with great mental effort. I lose steam quickly, and just have to grind it out. But as soon as somebody says “You go!”, or “Get it, girl!”, or just smiles and makes me feel like I’m among friends, I’m flying effortlessly! Running is suddenly easy. It feels good.

Now, I love a long, slow run all by myself. It blows the cobwebs out of my head and gives me time to pray and plan and write blogs posts in my head.

I love a good fast run by myself, too. It takes a different mindset to get yourself to go faster and harder when nobody cares, nobody’s keeping a timer on you, and you’re only doing it to see what you’re capable of. It’s probably good for the soul in some way, to put yourself through that kind of torment. I hope so, anyway.

I also really love sprint/walk workouts, where I push as hard and fast as I can for 20 or 30 seconds, and then walk to recover, over and over again until I just can’t do it anymore. Uphill, downhill, flat, doesn’t matter. It’s just a wonderful way to wear yourself out and build cardiovascular strength.

And now, here’s this whole other kind of run that I hadn’t noticed I was doing, but is really my favorite: the one where people are smiling and waving and somehow throwing their energy my way. I always thought I was pretty introverted, but the older I get, the more of a charge I get out of other people. Maybe I’m becoming some kind of long distance extrovert! No need to talk to me, just smile and wave as I run away! I get a real, measurable charge out of that kind of interaction.

I hope this same magic follows me to The Cub on Saturday. I’d be shocked, honestly, if I do this thing in an hour and twenty minutes. That’s my wildest dream. I’m not fast, ok? But if the spectator spell I’m noticing works consistently, and it’s not just a temporary boost that wears off like most placebos, I might be able to shave another ten minutes off that! It’s that big of a difference that I’m getting!

(While I’m talking about time-shaving, I might as well mention that I’m hoping to rub 5 more minutes off of my 5k time by the end of the summer. I think I can do it. I’m finding that I do a lot better when I have a firm goal, rather than just “let’s go out and see what we can do today”.)

You really don’t know what you can do until you have to do it.

In fact, before I signed up for Saturday’s race, my longest run had been, I guess, about four and half miles. Once I knew there was a 7-miler in my future, I started going both longer and faster.

Because I knew I was going to have to, I not only did it, but I did it well: doubled distance and faster pace.

If you’re struggling to get better at something, I highly recommend making it official by joining a competition! Or a class. Or go get your neighbor and see if she wants to join you. Make sure that the thing you’re doing “just for yourself” is social enough to keep you on your toes.

You will stagnate on your own.

When others are involved, whether as spectators or competitors or companions, you will find that you have vast reserves of ability and motivation that you didn’t care enough to search out before. This is not an extrovert thing. It’s not a pathetic sheeple thing. It’s a human being thing. We thrive on each other’s encouragement. This applies to all areas of life. If you’re not into sports, but (let’s just say) music or acting, find a group to play with, or a bunch of other newbies to jam with. Or maybe you want to learn a language or a new skill. You can do all that online by yourself, sure!

But it’s not usually getting you anywhere if you’re doing it all alone. You might have this super-secret ability to speak German really fluently, but who are you speaking it to? Find people!

And since I almost always find myself bringing it back around to Jesus (because of course it’s all about Jesus!), this is why we need church, too. I know a lot of people who name the name of Christ, but stay away from church for whatever reason; this hypocrisy, or that doctrinal disagreement, or that way of doing the budget. It doesn’t matter. There’s always some reason to avoid church, if you really want to dig one up.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.–John 13:35

You can’t love people you won’t even go around. You are meant to bless and encourage other Christians, and they are meant to bless and encourage you. You have to show up for it, no matter how hard it is to swallow your differences, or get up that early on the one day you have off work, or you will never know what you are capable of as a follower of Christ. You could be moving mountains, but you’re struggling to even move yourself.

Get out there. Whatever it is you’re doing, get among people from time to time. You think you don’t need them? Fine. What if they need you? Just go!