It was sometime during my run on Thursday that I wondered if it was worth it.
I’ve signed up for the Monument Avenue 10K, along with about 30,000 other crazies. We’re planning to run 6.2 miles on Saturday, March 28, and First Baptist Church is fielding a team called “Team First.” I’ve encouraged the staff to run or walk in this race as a way of setting an example before the whole church, and if I’m asking the staff to set an example for the church I feel obliged to set an example for the staff.
So, there I was on Thursday, my day off, bundled up against the sub-freezing temperatures and trudging west on Monument Avenue. My lungs were cold, my eyes were watering, and I had a stitch in my right side that produced an awkward, limping gait. I was hoping to run four miles, but with three miles to go I wanted very much to stop, turn around, and walk back home.
This is new for me. I was a distance runner in college and used to knock out five miles before breakfast and then practice with the team in the afternoon. If you had asked me to run four miles in the cold back then I would have done it in swim trunks and flip-flops. I don’t want to think that I’m getting older—none of us do—but apparently I am. All the more reason to give some thought to staying fit.
I used to talk to college students about “Total Fitness.” I would tell them that human beings have four essential aspects—body, mind, soul, and spirit—and that it’s important to keep all of them in shape.
Body: That one seems obvious enough, doesn’t it? Even if you don’t run ten miles a day you can eat right and exercise. There are plenty of books and articles that give good, sensible advice on those subjects. On my refrigerator at home I used to have a note that said “Eat less; move more.” It really can be that simple.
Mind: For those college students it wasn’t a problem: their minds were getting a regular workout. For those of us who are no longer in school it can be too easy to let our minds get soft, to watch something lighthearted on television instead of sitting down with a good book, joining a discussion group, or taking a class.
Soul: Have you exercised your soul lately? Have you spent time in prayer, done some devotional reading, journaled, or immersed yourself in Scripture? Have you been to worship, sung the great hymns of the faith, opened your soul to a sermon, listened to a glorious anthem? All of these are ways of keeping your soul fit but of course these are not the only ways.
Spirit: I like to distinguish this one from the soul, although the two are closely related. I like to think that you exercise your spirit by doing the things you love, by spending time with friends, by going to an art museum, by canoeing down a quiet river, by turning the music up loud and dancing. Ask yourself, “What do I love to do?” and then do that. It will probably take some effort. The best things in life usually do.
I would be glad for you to add to this list or tell me some of the things you like to do to keep your body, mind, soul, and spirit in shape. Just click on the word “comments” below to share your suggestions.
And just so you’ll know, I did finish that four mile run on Thursday, and when I practice with “Team First” at 1:30 this Sunday afternoon…
…it’s going to show.