Friday, May 27, 2011

Fear of Running

I am not in shape...

Underlying that statement is the question "Who defines what in-shape is?" If I lived in a culture that worshiped fat I would be a demi-god. So let me rephrase:

I am not as fit and healthy as I would like to be, and that is in danger of impeding my day to day activities if I don't do something about it.

I have just started an exercise program called 'From Couch to 5K', it takes 20 minutes, 3 times a week. I went out on Tuesday evening for the first time. Steve came with me, and we jogged for 60 seconds then walked for 90 seconds, repeating that pattern 8 times.....I managed 7 times and then walked the rest of the way. It takes only 20 minutes to do, but I have a long recovery time afterwards.

This morning was my second session, and I was going out alone. I was sitting on the couch in my exercise gear ready to go and I felt a wave of emotion flood across me. 'I don't want to do this. I'm afraid'.  The level of emotion was far stronger than the action warranted so I sat with myself a while to allow myself time to feel, and work out where this emotion was coming from.

I have exercise induced asthma.

As I sat on the couch I remembered a family vacation to Llandudno from when I was 14. My parents had let my brother and I go off by ourselves while they headed back to the hotel. We went to the Amusement Arcade by pier to play penny slots. They also had a large Bouncy Castle that we both played on.

It was during the walk back to the hotel that I knew I was in trouble. My breathing was getting faster, shallower and more labored, and my rescue inhaler was on the nightstand. My brother left me sitting on a patch of grass by the side of the road and ran back to the hotel to get my medication.

I remember Cross Country Running in High School, panting around at the back of the group for one lap and then going in earlier gasping for breath.

I remember as a child waking up in the middle of the night with an asthma attack so severe that the doctor was called to the house about 3am to inject me with adrenaline.

I have not had an asthma attack in years. I cannot remember my last attack. My medication works very well. I get short of breath, but that is because of my level of fitness and not my asthma.

Knowing I am safe and that running is ok didn't mean a thing when I was sitting on the couch this morning. The fear may have been unjustified, but it was real. I didn't have anyone else with me to go get help if something went wrong, I had no brother to 'run back to the hotel'.

I knew that God was with me, but he was with me in Llandudno too, but He didn't run back to the hotel, my brother did.....and yes I know I can say that my brother was being the Presence of God to me then, but I didn't have anyone to be that presence while I was running today.

Now I love a good theological conundrum as much as the next person, it's the kind of thing I can sit and think about for hours...but sitting and thinking is not getting me out of the door exercising. So I decided I needed to re-frame my jogging in a way that made it positive.

That's not easy for someone who once had a severe asthma attack while asleep!!!

I picked a subject for prayer and asked God to receive the sound of my foot hitting the sidewalk as a prayer of petition.

Exercise became Intercession.

Out the door I went, and like Tuesday I managed 7 repetitions of the pattern and then walked the rest of the way. 

I'm hoping this gets easier...I'm hoping I can keep re-framing this activity as prayer. I'm hoping that if someone asks for prayer my first thought will be 'Where are my running shoes?'

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