I Want to Run
On November 28, 2011 at 11:30 p.m. … everything changed.
That’s the day I started running.
Oh, I had run on playgrounds as a kid playing t-ball, kickball and the like. I ran around in Jr High and High School playing soccer, or just fooling around with friends. But I never was a “runner.” I didn’t “run”. I was never on the track team, and I never ran cross country.
You see, I’m not built for running. I’m not tall and thin as many of these gazelle-like track stars are. I’m not lean and muscular like the ultra running stallions that can fly through 100 mile races in 16 hours or so. I’m a short 5’7”, with a big boned stocky build of 158 lbs (currently…but I’m working on it). Nothing about my physique would say to you that I’m a runner. But I am a runner…very much so.
If you rewind my story a few years, I had blown up to 237 lbs of solid fat. I was NOT a runner! Lol I was a couch potato at best. “Could you pass the remote please?”, was a common phrase that crossed my lips. I wouldn’t even change the channel on the television if it meant getting up from my seat for any reason. (Wow! It’s hard for me to believe that now).
I’m not sure which came first…the weight or the depression. But they came. Both of them. And with them came confusion and limited vision for life. I was becoming someone of which I was ashamed, but I didn’t know how to turn things around. People were all around me but I was lonely. Opportunity was all around me, but I couldn’t find success to save my life. Happiness was available to me, but all I could see in the mirror was a fat, sad, unsuccessful young man, who was angry inside. I was looking for anyone and anything upon which to place the blame for my misery. But deep down inside I knew that it was my fault.
You see, life gives us choices. Every single bite we put in our body is a choice. Every single action we take second by second is a choice. Every word that proceeds from our mouth is a choice. And as I matured, I realized that I was responsible even for taking every thought captive. YES! We even CHOOSE our thoughts and our feelings! (Some of you aren’t ready for that reality quite yet). We arrive as the people that we are by the choices that we make! Chew on that for a minute. Own it! You are exactly who you want to be; and you decided it with every bite, every act, every word, every thought and every feeling that you’ve chosen since the day you were born. You are YOU! And no one else is responsible.
It wasn’t until I was willing to embrace this truth, that I was even able to embark on my journey toward personal freedom. But what a sweet victory it has been, conquering myself…defeating the Nate Ridgeway that I was. It felt good to choose change. To choose healing.
One year, 9 months, 25 days, 17 hours and 22 minutes ago from this very moment I stepped outside the door of my house on a chilly 30 degree night, clad in cheap compression wear from my skiing days, a pull over, and a knit hat. Nothing matched or fit very well. One: I wasn’t a runner. Two: I had lost nearly 70 lbs at this point, and my wardrobe was far from coordinated. I had an early flight to Oregon the next morning, my family was out of town, and I should’ve headed to bed. But for some reason, a reason I may never know…I was compelled to RUN!
And so I ran.
As I stepped out the door of my house through the kitchen and into the car port, I slipped my earbuds into my ears, and began scrolling through my old school iPod as I walked up the steep concrete driveway to the street above. I settled on U2’s The Joshua Tree, and pressed play. As my feet moved into stride for my very first official moonlit trek as a runner, that familiar voice from my teenage years burst into song. “I want to run…..I want to hide….I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside…”
I hadn’t planned it! I wasn’t prepared for those first lyrics to ring out synonymously with my first steps ….”I want to run” … And as I ran, I wept. Tears of joy began to stream down my face as I contemplated my personal journey over the last several years. You see, that night for me all of the sudden took on a context that was of greater significance than anything I could’ve planned as I slipped my sneakers on for a simple 2 mile jog in the cold late autumn air. In one moment…with that first stride…with that perfect lyric…the culmination of so many significant sub-journeys of my life bleed into one. And I was free!
As I think back on that night, I’m not sure that if any one single component of the story had been omitted, that the experience would’ve had the same impact. What if my family had been home? I probably would’ve turned in for the evening. What if I had decided to crash on the couch as usual and turned on ESPN or some DVR’d show? I would’ve dozed off to sleep. What if I had chosen a different record to listen to? I may have jogged a couple of miles, and that would’ve been it.
But those things didn’t happen. My family was gone, the couch could’t hold me that night, and for whatever reason Bono made his way electronically into my soul just at the right moment….THE Moment! The moment I became a runner.
WHY I RUN
It is said that many people who run are running from something. Or toward something. I suppose each soul who makes their way to a sidewalk, or street, or track, or a trail (my personal favorite), has his or her own reasons for running. I have found that many of them aren’t even sure of their reason…they just know that something is missing. That there’s something they need.
I run because I can. Because I’ve been set FREE! Because I have been delivered! And it feels good to RUN!! To feel the wind in my face, or at my back. I love to run when it’s bitter cold, and I love to run when it’s sweaty hot. I’ve run in the driving rain, and in the freezing snow. Oh, sure….I sometimes complain about the elements as if they matter to me. But deep down, they don’t matter at all. Otherwise, I’d just stay inside on that couch.
Bono called it when he sang about tearing down the walls. And that’s exactly what has happened in my life. No longer 237 lbs, I’m a healthy 158 lbs, and I feel great! No longer depressed and unhappy with myself, I have found happiness. NO! Joy for living. No longer struggling to survive…searching for myself…for my place in this world, I have found peace and contentment. Everything has changed! My thoughts, my feelings, my actions…..and my results. I expect things will continue to change as I continue to grow forward.
Do I recommend that you run? Sure…if you find a reason for it. If one autumn evening when you’re all alone, you get the itch to take a moonlight stroll…go for it. I recommend that you run if you choose to do so. And if that moment comes…if you get that urge…take it. Because there’s something deep inside calling to you.
But even if you never experience that life changing call to run, I am quite sure that if you are at all human, you WILL receive the the potentially life-changing urge to “change”. To grow. To be more than the composite of everything you had become prior to that moment. And when that moment comes…when that itch deep down inside digs at you…I beg of you…don’t let that moment pass. Embrace it! Open your ears to hear and your eyes to see. Receive what LIFE is speaking to you!
And then run.
Run as far away from your former self as you possibly can.
Run into your destiny!
Run like your life depends on it!
Run like you’re being chased!!
And when you’ve given LIFE your Best Shot…rest.
You will have earned it.
“Don’t you know that you must run the whole race in order to receive the prize?” -St Paul