Unlike most of the country, I didn't go the gym on January 2. I didn't work out at all in 2010 until a week ago Sunday. Let me tell you, after a month in which my movement was limited to switching which direction I curled my feet up on the couch, it was not fun. I have learned to resist the urge to "power through" on that first workout back and try to make up for a month of missed runs. Inevitably you end up so stiff you walk like a Barbie doll for days, and for me, that is usually the last work out for a while. So, instead, I took it relatively easy. I am still not going to say it was fun, or it even felt good, but I did stagger away with a sense of accomplishment, which was rewarding enough to get me back in three more times last week.
Even on the best of days I wouldn't say I've experienced a runner's high (that, or else its greatly overrated), but yesterday, I finally worked my way back into the groove. I felt my muscles get hot and tense, and periodically it got really hard, then eased up again. And when I was done, I felt like Rocky and Prefontaine rolled into one.
Victory! A sense of accomplishment, purpose and edification surged and I strutted out of there feeling as powerful as one of those bald dudes in a back belt who bench press VW Beetles.
There are times that I wish I could work out once and be done. Forever. Alas, its not meant to be, as my body is quick to remind me. But, today I'm glad for that.
If all things were easy, or instantaneous, I would miss out on the sense of freedom and power that self-discipline evokes. Each day I have to make decisions that will have an impact on my future. I know at the time what that impact will be, and fairly often I make the poor choice anyway (just ask the half-empty pan of brownies in the fridge.) But, God, in his goodness, has given us lives that are built a day at a time, undefined by any one action, good or bad. I'm never going to reach a point where I can stop working towards the person I want to be. But I'm never too far gone, either.
And when I do make good decisions, that beautiful freedom He offers rests sweet on my brow calling me down the right path where the long-term rewards outweigh the momentary cost...say, sore muscles or an unsatisfied craving (I'm talkin' to you, brownies). And after a while, when I look back and see where I've come from--see the success and triumph, the stumbles that I didn't let hold me down forever--I sigh deep in my chest and feel the peace that comes amidst the struggle. And that peace is enough to draw me one step further.