Here's Why You Should Run (Even If You Hate Running)

Six years ago, there is only one thing I would use the word “hate” to describe, and that one thing was running. My husband grew up running track and cross country, and it was the only thing I thought was maybe a little nuts about him. Why would you run without getting anywhere? What in the world would compel one to run to the point of vomiting (as he had done; thank goodness I wasn’t there to see it)?

The spring after I lost a child to miscarriage, I had an urge to start running. I attributed it to hormones and grief and didn’t pursue it. A year later, praise God, I’d carried another baby to term and given birth. When he was about four months old, the same urge returned. This time, I knew it wasn’t grief. At some point over the previous year I’d driven by the local field hockey field, where I’d been the slowest person on our losing high school team. I looked at the field and thought, That’s something I think I can’t do. Something in me, some combination of grief, hope, and a new perspective on what my body is capable of, convinced me that now was the time to prove to myself that I could run. I could do it for exercise, for fun, and to prove to myself that there’s nothing I can’t do.  

I texted my bestie from college (who also ran track and cross country in high school) and asked if she’d run a 5K with me. She said yes, and made plans to travel to NY and run with me. Getting up to that distance took some doing, but I finished the race and was pretty happy with my time. I wanted to try again, and soon enough, I wanted to go for a longer distance.

The next year I ran a half marathon with my husband. The training was amazing because every Saturday, I did something I’d never done before. I ran five miles, then six, seven, eight, nine, ten. We traveled to Nashville for the race and I completed 13.1. My friends and family were all kind of flabbergasted when I told them what I was doing, but they cheered me on all the way through, watching my kids at times, and just staying interested in how I was preparing.

I’ve run a couple 5Ks, 10Ks, a ten-miler, and a full marathon since. Next weekend, I’ll run my second half, and training this time has been harder than any other. I’ve found that every race I train for is a different story: my body’s in a different place, my family and work situations are different, my head is working through something new. Sometimes it’s super fun. Sometimes it’s a major challenge. But that’s basically life, right? 

In just the last week or two, I’ve started to feel like I’m ready for this race. With a grateful heart, I’m also realizing how the challenges in getting my miles in have strengthened me mentally and spiritually. I’ve endured what felt like lost hope and then found courage through God’s grace. Whether or not I PR this race, I have learned more about myself, my God, and my husband—who’s been enormously supportive. I believe I have more of what it will take to persevere the next time life throws me a curve ball or worse.

I don’t run a race expecting to come in first place (or anything remotely close to that). I run to care for my body, to travel, to be with people I care about, to deepen my faith, and because once you get started, it really can be fun!

Lindsay Schlegel wrote her college entrance essay about her lack of athletic ability. In the decade since, God's proven her wrong--and taught her a great deal about Himself in the process. Now a wife and mother, Lindsay has completed a half marathon, a full marathon (while pregnant), and a Spartan Sprint. She's the author of Don't Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God. You can find out more about her at LindsaySchlegel.com.