Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jitters, Meaning, and Fellowship

This morning, I wrote a Haiku in which I mentioned fellowship and meaning. If I had to write the Haiku over again, I’d probably switch the order. The first line of the Haiku was about a fast track run at night. The second line was about a relaxing morning run. I wrote “Fellowship. Meaning.” as the last line but it probably should have been “Meaning. Fellowship.”

Why? And how does this all relate to jitters? And how would I answer a friend on FB who asked how I could relax while running?

I’ll answer those three questions in order. I find meaning and fellowship both in the fast track runs that I do with the crew from Charm City Run and with the Christopher’s Place team in the Back on My Feet Baltimore Chapter. However, if I had to rank which leads to more meaning and which leads to more fellowship, I’d say I’m still getting a little more meaning from fast running and attempts to bring myself to my fastest time ever. That is the focus of running with the Charm City Run training group. Over time, I have had great conversations and felt some fellowship with several of the runners in the group. I spent a lot of time running with Craig and Jeff last summer. I enjoy running with Carolina and Mike. And Caroline has helped me to push myself very hard around the track and on the long courses as we approach the end of this spring’s half marathon training. In the Back on My Feet group, I find a completely different type of meaning—the meaning of team. The meaning of support. The meaning of people who are there to help improve each other’s lives. People who pray together. People who do mostly easy paces. People who are out there for enjoyment. And people with whom I feel fellowship from the time I arrive, to each hug give to a fellow member, to each mile of run, to each stretch at the end. Lots of meaning. Different meaning. Mostly fellowship. Over time, I may find that I can work with Back on My Feet to get just as much out of it for speed and meaning in my running as I do for meaning in my service to others. I don't need to mention individual names with Back on My Feet as the opportunity for fellowship is there with everyone.

Second, what does jitters have to do with this. Well, last June 20—my anniversary and Father’s Day last year when I ran a 5K with my middle son—I posed the question on my FB wall “I wonder why I still get race day jitters just like at UD when now running is all for fun?” For reference, UD was my high school when I ran on teams. One friend asked whether it really wasn’t competition any more. I think that even my choice of words in my post suggests that I didn’t see what I was doing as just for fun. I chose to refer to what I was doing as running rather than jogging. As I think about it, running implies a different type of commitment, focus, and effort that jogging. Maybe that is all in my own mind, but I do think it is important to notice. Now, ten months later, I can say, after running two competitive workouts with the Charm City Run group that I have not lost my entire sense of competitiveness. It is mostly with myself. Trying to prove something to myself about my ability to still do the runs. However, it is sometimes with others. It is healthy and fun competition, but I have to admit it is not all for fun. Again, for the time being I get a very important type of meaning from this. Not to exclude the meaning of service to others. Just to note—I get a lot of meaning from fast running still. I don’t get jitters for morning runs that focus on fellowship. And the fellowship even extends beyond the CP team. This morning, we crossed paths with another team from the Baltimore chapter of Back on My Feet at the Inner Harbor and there was much joy shared between the two groups.

Third, I really do see myself as doing two different types of running. And the type of running I have been doing with Back on My Feet to date has been relaxing. I’d say more “jogging” than running. Is that a problem? No. I figure as long as I do three hard workouts with the Charm City Run group, I can do several less intense workouts with the Back on My Feet group. Those workouts are as much about fellowship, sharing, socializing, and social capital that is being built as they are about muscles being built. They are more about just letting my muscles stretch and get warmed and used a bit rather than pushing myself to the limit. I once referred to yoga as purposeful relaxation. I could say the same about the slow, easy runs that we do for 1-4 miles each day I run with Back on My Feet. It is just a time to get the heart rate up some—but not too much. Get the muscles warmed—but not overworked. It can be relaxing to get going a bit—without going too hard. Perhaps not everyone considers that relaxing but it is to me.

So, jitters, meaning, and fellowship all go together as I continue to run.

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