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Joining the track team in 8th grade COMPLETELY changed my life.
Before I joined track, I loved playing soccer, softball and tennis. I truly enjoyed athletics. But, I was far from the best player at any of these sports; and on top of that, I was an outsider on every team.
It wasn’t that my teammates didn’t know me –
I was an outsider because I wasn’t cool, and middle school girls can be cruel.
I felt their cruelty at every practice and game. Most of the time it wasn’t outright meanness, it was just the pain of feeling left out.
When I joined track, so much changed.
I did well. I won races. For the first time, I felt that I might have a talent.
Teammates seemed to like me
and an older sister of two teammates came to a race and suggested I join the high school team with her!
My feelings of inadequacy gradually turned into confidence.
I was no longer feeling left out. I began to be invited to hang out with my new teammates. I felt welcome.
But that was just the beginning of how it changed me for the better.
What compelled me to join track was simply being invited to sign up by a friend up the street.
The sense of belonging I received was just the beginning of how running positively impacted my life, my character and my faith.
Running is a unique sport. We had a popular saying that went on a tee shirt, “our sport is your sport’s punishment”.
Running hurts. It requires struggle and suffering. It allows you see the benefit of sacrifice.
Running allowed me to remember the pain and suffering Jesus experienced for me.
When you run long distance you are given a lot of time with your thoughts. So on those long runs you often think, “why is this happening”, “what am I supposed to do about this or that” – and you also think, “wow, this hurts – I want to stop”.
I can picture that one hill in college. Ugh, it was steep. We did repeats of that hill for a workout – but running up that thing in a race ONCE brought such a burning sensation to my thighs and lungs I could not help but think,
“if Jesus could carry his cross, you can get up this hill without walking”.
Believe me, I wanted to walk. I wanted to stop and sit down. But the thought of Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice got me up that hill.
I guess that was my way of offering something up. Those conversations with him deepened my relationship with Him. Why this talent God? How do I get through this pain? What do you want me to do with my life? They may not have been answered right away, but simply bringing those questions to God in prayer while I was running nourished a real relationship.
Read more about suffering here: When the Struggle is Really Real
Running gave me the opportunity to see my own growth and improvement, simply by observing my own progress.
It is said that comparison is the thief of joy.
This can be true in any competitive sport. There is always someone better. Although this is true in Track and Cross Country, there is an added element that allows a runner to feel successful.
When you run a race, you hope to get a better time than you did before. If you get a better time – that is victory!
No matter what place you come in, if you ran your “PR” or best time – that was and is cause for celebration. Everyone can be a winner in a sense – and it doesn’t have to be at the expense of anyone else’s feelings.
Many times we put in hard work and effort and it takes a long time to see the results. With running, you could run an 8 minute mile, then a 7 minute mile, then you are under 7 minutes – possibly in one season. You are able to see your hard work paying off! That is such a beautiful gift – to know that your work is making a difference!
Running gave me a way to improve my mental health.
I remember thinking and wondering “why running? Why would God give me such a stupid talent!?” “Why not singing, acting, being funny – how is this talent helpful to anyone – ever?”
(I wrote about this question here: My Stupid Talent Was a Great Blessing)
Then, in my 20’s and 30’s I appreciated running for completely different reasons. I never experienced the “runners high” marathoners speak of because I never ran a marathon. But going on a half hour run really gets the right juices in your brain flowing. Endorphins, dopamine or whatever, they really give a boost of positive emotions that we often need or desire.
Running kept me out of trouble.
I wanted to rebel in high school. I was sick of being “un-cool”. Someone offered me a cigarette and I accepted. Then again, it was offered – and I thought, “I’m finally good at something – running. Smoking will mess that up.” I said no. I said that I didn’t want to because it would affect my running.
It gave me a structured activity to participate in after school every day.
It helped me make friends with other students who valued education and hard work.
I want other girls to feel the love of self running gave to me!
This month, any books that are bought as a donation will be given to the Mighty Precious Feet- Girls’ Empowerment Program so that together, we can help girls feel more important and confident.
Please help by making a donation here!!! Yes, I want to donate a Be Yourself Journal to Mighty Precious Feet!
Ceci Escobedo, the Founder of Mighty Precious Feet and Hair Bows 4 Life, is so excited and grateful that we are donating books to her new program for Catholic girls. I asked Ceci:
Why do you hope the girls in your program receive a Be Yourself Journal?
After I read the first Be Yourself Journal, I was taken back by how ideal this Journal is for the girls in our club. I love how each page shows different ways that a girl can really look inside herself and see how precious she is. It is very interactive with different ways to enhance and courage a girl to be herself. This is what we do in each of our sessions. Our main goal is for each girls is to just be herself, a precious daughter of God!
I also asked Ceci:
How does this journal re-enforce the values and skills you are teaching the runners?
The journal re-enforces the virtues as well as the empowerment tools we are implementing for example: respect, integrity, positive thinking, goals, just to name a few. The skills we are trying to foster in our girls is something that goes across the board, every aspect of their lives not just running, but as well for their schoolwork and spiritual life.
You can donate a journal to this Catholic/Christian running program here: Donate a Be Yourself Journal
You can also purchase a journal for you love one from our shop page or through Amazon! Great deal now – under $13 shipped!!!!
If you choose Amazon, remember to have the journal SHIPPED TO:
Mighty Precious Feet
7446 Mahalo Hui Drive
Diamondhead, MS 39525
If you can not afford to purchase a book to donate at this time, please, please, please share this post with friends – share it on Facebook, Twitter – Pin it on Pinterest! That will help us get these journals out to more girls and help others learn about the new Mighty Precious Feet Program!
Read more about the Be Yourself Journal here: Dear Beautiful 13 Year Old . . .
Dear Beautiful Girl Trying to Find Yourself