The day I discovered the treadmill was cold and snowy and – did I mention cold?
The story begins something like this: On any given day, I would much rather lament my running incapacity than to do something productive to remedy it. Every once in a while I do something advisable (recall Exhibit A). But more often, I do not. (Notice there is only one Exhibit A.)
Secretly, I want to be a runner. But running is intimidating. To be a runner you have to – how should I put this? To be a runner you have to… run. Regularly. And regularly is not something I do well.
Then it happened. In a moment of weakness I succumbed to a friend’s request to come to an informational meeting about a training session she was starting.
“Just come to the meeting,” she said. “You don’t have to actually join.”
“Will there be punch and cookies?” I asked.
Unfortunately, I happened to be available the night of the meeting. And while I didn’t really expect there to be cookies, there was always the chance…
So I went.
That’s all it took. Which, of course, my trainer-friend knew all along. Because as any good trainer knows, just getting to the starting line is the hardest part. What my friend didn’t know is that for the last couple weeks I had been looking for an outlet to blow off the steam of a 10-hour-a-day desk job. I had been coming up empty. This is the door God opened. Sigh.
I signed my form. I paid my fee. Okay then, let’s do this thing.
By the day of our first group run, I was pumped. I had new running shoes and had cobbled together assorted pieces of hiking/exercise clothing that I thought could withstand a foray into this new and exciting world. Then the run got cancelled. They do that if it’s less than 0°F. Wimps. (Just kidding, trainer-friend! I don’t actually want to run through snowdrifts at -20°…)
This is where it is either an amazing benefit or a curse to have your trainer also be your friend. Because just when I was pretty sure I’d be walking my dog instead of going for a run, I got a message.
“I’ll meet you at the treadmill and help you with your run,” she said.
The Treadmill. (It would not be melodramatic to add Dah Dah-Dah music here.)
Up to this point, I had been on a treadmill exactly once in my life: three days prior in the running store where they were taking exotic measurements to match me to the perfect shoes. I knew nothing about treadmills except that my trainer-friend had recently lamented she would rather eat dinner with rusted silverware than run long distances on a treadmill. (Of course, her definition of running long distances and my definition of running long distances are a little bit different…) The fact that she was willing to coerce me onto the treadmill proves that a) she is a good trainer, b) she is a good friend, and c) I was going to run on a treadmill.
In the end, our schedules did not line up, and I ventured to the treadmill solo. But here’s the thing. Even though I had walked by the fitness center in my apartment complex hundreds of times, the fact that I had easy access to a treadmill never even entered my mind until my trainer-friend pointedly brought it to my attention. I had never thought about treadmills before, and so I didn’t think of them now. The game had changed, but I was still in my old mind-set.
How many times do we start something new but carry with us old patterns of thought? Sometimes, even when we know something (I had walked by that treadmill hundreds of times!), we still need someone to point it out to us. Paul exclaims excitedly that the old has passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17), but this is not always an instantaneous transformation. Whether we’re talking about a physical run or our spiritual walk, we need the willingness of someone to come alongside us and give us that extra push. We need one another to try new things, to be challenged, and to grow. We need one another to lean on, to learn from, to follow and to lead.
God bless the gift of encouragement.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).