How Do You Express Thankfulness?

How can a man demonstrate his gratitude for all that he’s been given, while at the same time inspire others to think differently, go the extra mile, and be someone who always follows through?

I’ve found that I can do this through endurance running. Starting on my 34th birthday, I began to do what I refer to as my “Run For Life” by running 1 mile for every year God has given me.

Many people run great distances; that is not really unique. For me, what is unique about this particular run is that it is a time for deep and isolated reflection – no headphones and no other people around– just me. Deep into the trails with nothing but the roller coaster of positive and negative thoughts that inevitably arise from many hours of “mind clutter” and a wide variety of pain, both physically and mentally.

Thinking Differently

One area I focus on while running is how to “suffer better.” Sounds weird, doesn’t it? I am fascinated by those who seem to be able to endure many different forms of pain and still live a life full of genuine joy. There are not many qualities I respect more and desire to see grow in my own life. To literally feel both the physical and mental pain, acknowledge it, and be ok with it – even welcome it. To me, this endeavor is proof of the ultimate power of our thoughts and how much we really can control in between our ears.

My goal, on this run, is to be in tune with all five senses. Something most of us can’t often accomplish within our normal lives. They are full of constant noise, distractions, and people. What I can see, smell, hear, taste, and especially feel is never more alive than on a journey like this annual run.

Going the Extra Mile & Always Follow Through

I love to race and I love the feeling of crossing a finish line amidst a cheering crowd of people. Not only crossing it myself, but to be there and witness others cross that line inspires me greatly. I have competed in 50-mile and 100-mile runs with many other runners. These events are publicized and full of support, unlike my birthday “Run for Life”, which is quite the opposite.

Many times during the last couple hours of a past birthday run I was tempted to just “pack it in.”  Who would know? Who would even care? Probably no one… The thought that always hits me is: if I am not honest with myself, I’ll never be honest with others. If I can “cut corners” now, then I’ll do it next time and again the time after that. Nothing good comes from cutting corners and cheating ourselves. Regardless whether anyone is watching.

The importance of integrity is a significant takeaway from my “Run For Life.” We do so much for the sake of recognition, competition, and promotion. “True integrity is doing things the right way, even when no one is watching.” This is the all-important “follow-through” in our lives.

No matter how much each step hurts and how much I wanted to stop early to go get my doughnuts and beer, I followed through. I knew the whole point was to just keep going. To experience every minute. To do what I told myself I would do.

Even when only I knew.

Especially when only I knew.

Maybe running isn’t your thing…but what is it?

What is the thing that you can do to inspire someone else to think bigger? Do more? Go above and beyond? Always follow through?

One Response

  1. Simon says:

    Great post. Running resonates deep. In my average day I barely find time to reflect, pray or study – but when I run for the initial guilt driven purpose of “exercise” I find myself getting the greatest takeaway is the solitude. Reminds me of the book “shoe dog”. Good stuff Ron

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