I needed a hilly run last Sunday morning, so to the hills I went. As I ran up and down along one of my favorite routes, I got to thinking (so easy to do on weekend runs, no?) about the “need” for hills. Why is it that on some days, I regard hilly runs with ambivalence, if not aversion, and on other days I crave them like chocolate cake?
The answer I came up with was strength. I crave hilly runs after stressful days, or if I’m trying to work something out in my head/heart/life. I draw strength from them.
Once I figured that out, I thought about other sources of strength in my life – after all, it’s good to have more than one, in case one of them becomes inaccessible. Here are three that I settled on:
- Hilly runs. Yep, this one’s a classic. It may sound odd to think of hills as a source of strength; I mean, hills are tiring. I don’t know of any fitness magazine cover shot taken immediately after a steep hill climb. But hills remind me of the strength that I already have, that sometimes I forget about. When I feel beaten up by stress or mental struggle, charging up a few hills reminds me that yes, I can face that situation, or yes, I can get over those emotional hurdles. And frankly, it’s hard to feel anything after climbing a hill other than relief and relaxation. Hilly runs offer peace and empowerment in one neat, if sweaty and panting, bundle.
- Target practice. Unlike hilly runs, I don’t crave target practice (although I’m still pretty new to the world of guns, so that could change). But whenever Robin Hood and I drive out to the desert to do some shooting, even when I’m initially reluctant to go, I always end up grateful that we did it. In practicing my aim, not to mention getting more comfortable with loading, clearing, and general gun-handling, I’m honing a whole new skill set and slowly but surely nudging the edges of my comfort zone outward. I still have lots of progress to make in my marksmanship, but with every [careful] heft of a gun, every good shot, I feel stronger and more confident. And yes, even a little more serene.
- Devotionals. I’m covering the gamut, aren’t I? But devotionals really are one of my most valued practices. I began reading them a little while back, but then for no good reason, fell off the wagon. I’ve picked the habit back up recently, and I am so, so glad. Walking the dog at zero-dark-hundred wakes up my body, but morning prayer time wakes up my heart and mind. Currently, I’m making my way through Psalms, and I’m reading books by Joyce Meyer and Kristin Armstrong. It’s all great stuff, and it’s both strengthening and comforting to know that, whatever the day brings, I’m starting it from a good place, with my focus on the right things.
What gives you strength?