Just Keep Running?

I'm in a very humbling and difficult place. I tend to primarily share things on this blog once I feel I have them "figured out" to a certain extent, and I've oft thought that wise. Generally, I think it is, particularly as I usually have filtered things through Jason and we've come to a place of harmony. That said, I am realizing that I have an unhealthy tendency to only share hard things at all (including in person, be that in community group, with loving sisters in Christ, etc) when I feel I've figured them out enough, figured out what Jesus wants of me enough, that there's not a whole lot of room for anyone else to speak into the situation much because, hey, I'm on it!

What I'm sharing today is something that Jason and I are praying through and I am asking Jesus what his will for me is. But there's been silence. Not "Oh no! God has abandoned me!" silence; rather, I sense the Lord saying, "Keep seeking, asking, knocking, daughter. I love you and my will for you is for your good." I started just now to type, "But that's all he's saying," as though that answer isn't good enough.

Let's just be honest--in my sinful state, it's not. I want God to say, "Here's my will, go forth in obedience!"

You may wonder what this all pertains to, so let's just jump in.

Yup, talking about running today.
If you've been around much at all then you know I've been getting into running. Somewhere last fall I just decided, "I want to run a 5k. I've always wanted to be a runner. Why not now?" Part of me has always had the number of 220 pounds in my head, thinking I'd start running when I got there. But then I thought of how the people on The Biggest Loser run when they weigh 450 pounds, so why couldn't I try?

It was kind of amazing. Hard, to be sure, but man was I seeing myself change! I even wrote about it, here and here. And then Jesus blessed me with an amazing gift--the nicest treadmill I've ever used in my life, in my living room, for free. Wrote about that, too!

And guess what? After the two weeks off from Roger being sick, I didn't lollygag or make excuses. I've worked out three times a week the last two weeks (my rhythm is MWF for running, which is what I meant by working out, though I also did some weights and abs and such in there, too). This week I ran Monday and had an intense walk today, but more on that later.

The reason I'm saying this is that something has been off. When I run I don't feel energized and refreshed like I did. I get dizzy and lightheaded, I cannot breathe as my lungs are on fire, they get mucusy and wheezy for the next day or two, and I get super shaky. Plus, my heart quickly gets to 180 and no matter what adjustments I make speed-wise it doesn't get below 170 until I walk. Plus, once my run is done I feel like junk and have zero energy. Just taking care of Roger feels exhausting.

I have thought, "Ok, maybe I'm pushing too hard, or maybe this treadmill is different than the one I was using and I'm running faster now and that's the problem." So I've tried slowing down. Didn't help. I also remember, though, that I was running my "short" five minute runs at 5.0mph sometimes AFTER running 10 minutes at 4.8mph. Now, 2 minutes into only 4.6mph and I am seriously wondering how I'll make it to 3 minutes, let alone 5 or 8 or 10.

This run? HARD. Actually had to pause halfway
through the 6min portion for 15 seconds, one
of the times I felt like the Holy Spirit basically
forced me to do so.
I have pushed harder, tried to push through it. I have thought, "I must be lazy and excuse making. I will not stop running until my time is up." And, I would not lie about this, I have felt at times like the Holy Spirit has literally moved my hand to turn the speed down to walking to catch my breath even when in my head I was yelling at myself to not be a quitter.

I have been discouraged. I feel like I am failing. Didn't I run a full mile less than a month ago? Sure, I missed two weeks, but come on--I ran a mile and a quarter just because I could and felt great afterward. Now? That seems like a dream, or a lie I told people because it feels so unlike reality.

I was warned that time off does set you back but you get back quicker. That's not happening. Seven runs in after the 2 weeks off and I feel worse after each run. Doesn't matter whether I push harder than last time or try to take it a little easier than last time or just repeat last time. Nothing is working.

Thus, my struggle. I have those same fears that ebb and flow. Is this it? Do I start regaining now? Or do I just stay here, at 267 pounds, less fat than I was but not healthy in a way that encourages a fruitful life? Am I failing Jesus? Am I failing Jason and Roger and my unborn babies and all who love me? Am I just giving up and being weak?

I read this article about why exercise won't make you thin, and while I'm not making the foolish choices regarding food (I actually tend to eat healthier with regards to food choices and portions), nor do I think I should just quit exercising, it did get the wheels turning. Do I need to be running right now?

Here's what's most important: why am I running? If I can do an intense, fast paced and high incline walk for 45 minutes that actually burns more calories than running but leaves me energized and feeling great afterward, should I not possibly do that for awhile?

Was this seriously reality on December 8th?
But then my mind says, "But no! Only one month ago I RAN a mile and it felt great and I loved it! I can get back there! Just keep trying! No giving up!" And then my body hates me. But I keep thinking maybe the next run will get better. And it doesn't. But as I type this I am literally thinking, "But maybe tomorrow's run WILL be better!"

And part of the issue is committing to a 5k in March. To be blunt, won't I look like an ass if I can't run the whole thing? And I really hate to run as much as I can and alternate with walking. That just feels lame. And will people think I'm making excuses? Will I be just another fat girl, or, even worse, fulfill the judgments and assumptions people make about me when they see a 267 (but, often in my head, still 376) pound, morbidly obese woman in front of them? Even worse, did people see me say I would do a 5k and assume I wouldn't follow through and now they just feel justified that they were right?

But I don't just want to prove them wrong. I know I am not trying to find my "out" regardless of what anyone says. It's not like I've been skipping my runs or even being lazy during them. I've been pushing myself probably beyond what even a crazy Jillian Michaels would recommend, trying to will my body to cooperate when it's just not. And the worst part, yet again, is that it DID cooperate before, so what gives?

Which brings us full circle. I keep asking Jesus what I should do. I asked Jason to pray. I asked him to pursue me (and he is). Still no answer.

Today's workout. Not shabby.
And yeah, that incline says 11.5. It's not like I'm being a lazy bum;
the speed was only 1.7 for 30 second intervals but jumped from there
to 2.3, 3.2, and 3.8. I had more sweat pouring off of me than when I run
and actually burned about 70 more calories.

Today was technically an "off" day but I walked a really intense walk for 40 minutes that had my heart always between 129-155. It was amazing, and I felt really great afterward. But I still thought, "But tomorrow, I must run."

Must I? I don't know. I know I almost certainly will, but must I?

One thing that hit me hard just now is how much I talked about Jesus' grace when I was running and it was amazing and I couldn't believe it was happening. Now that's hard and discouraging and confusing, do I still proclaim his grace? No, I don't. I turn to language of pushing on, digging deep, refusing to give up. First off, is Jesus any less gracious now? No. Secondly, what if his grace to me is that he's intentionally making running hard and possibly even eventually makes it clear that I am to stop running and my worst fears--those voiced here about looking like a failure, being believed to BE a failure--all come true and there's just nothing I can do about it? What then? Do I rejoice in his grace? Especially if I know I did work really hard and feel unjustly judged and misunderstood, two things I abhor?

Not saying that is for sure what will happen, but what if that is what is coming down the gauntlet? May I learn to speak of our grace "even if," Jesus.

To be honest, I hate what often feels like pithy advice. My heart keeps wishing I were here writing about that hard time when running wasn't going well a few weeks ago, but guess what? I ran a mile again today, and then some, yay! But I'm not. I'm in the thick of it. Well intending people might give me advice that I receive gratefully but know I am not meant to take. Others may think I am just a fat chick with excuses. Still others, I'm sure, will love and support me.

Regardless, here I am, in the midst, I suppose allowing Jesus to allow you to be a part of the actual journey and not just look at the slideshow when the trip is over. And that's probably a good place to be, even if I don't quite love it the way I probably should. To those coming along, thank you.

I promise to update as is appropriate.

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