Treadmill champion?

There are few activities in life that I find as challenging as running on a treadmill. I am not so much confounded by the difficulty of physical activity itself but rather the mental trial that accompanies it. When I was younger I had less trouble because I had the thrill of physical strength and the goals of an athlete. Now, I whimper through a fraction of the time I used to spend, motivated by...well...anything I can grab onto to pull me through.

My routine is scattered and random. My thoughts a little on the wild and frantic side as I struggle through the trial. I crank up the praise music. If you had a microphone to my brain and house during that time you might hear something like this.

Minutes 1-5: "30 minutes isn't so bad. This feels alright. I'll offer this workout as a prayer for ____.    Maybe I'll just do 20 minutes."

Minutes 6-10: "I should do the dishes. I wish I could read and run at the same time. 
Get off the table, Jellybean!! I have the grace of an elephant."

Minutes 11-15: "I am weak and pitiful. I want to fit into my blue jeans. I really should stop. Maybe
I'll just finish this lap. Blue jeans. Blue jeans."

Minutes 16-18: "I should pray. Help me out, St. Paul. All for you, dear Jesus. I should stop. 
Come on, old lady. Go. Go. Go."

Minutes 19-20: "I'm stopping when I get to 20. I'll do some jumping jacks or something when I'm done to make up for it. Heave ho! Heave ho!"

Minutes 21-23: "This is awful. I am slow and miserable and I still won't be able to fit into my blue jeans when I get off. I should stop."

Minutes 24-26: "Don't stop. Be a good mama. Be healthy and strong for those kiddos. 
Help me, Mother Mary. Hail Mary, full of grace..."

Minutes 27-28: "It's basically 30 minutes. I can stop now. Just get to the end of this lap and I'll stop. Stop teasing your sister, Crash!!"

Minute 29: "I can do this. It's only 30 minutes. I do lots of things for 30 minutes. Help me, Jesus. I am so pathetic. If I can't do 30 minutes, how can I persevere in anything?"

Minute 30: "Thank you, Lord. Water...water..."

Ugly. I can't help but compare myself to a good friend who runs on her treadmill every morning as she prays a Rosary. My own thoughts and goals are barely coherent.

I remember exercising when my first born was a little guy. A full hour most days and he would get antsy for his mama's attention. "Hold on, sweetheart...Mama's almost done. I want to be healthy and strong so that I can do the job that Jesus gave me to do."

It's not so easy these days.

I am tired and scattered. I struggle to order my physical and spiritual needs. I want order all at once. I lack discipline and patience. The strength of my teenage years will never come again but I can certainly do the best with what I've got. The real struggle is doing it for the right reasons. Vanity hides itself neatly behind "health". Bodily strength is also a great material comfort to me. Can I run this race and win without beauty and strength? Answers will vary depending on who you ask. But I am a Christian and I know the answer.
"All the runners at the stadium are trying to win, but only one of them gets the prize. You must run in the same way, meaning to win. All the fighters at the games go into strict training; they do this just to win a wreath that will wither away, but we do it for a wreath that will never wither, That is how I run, intent on winning; that is how I fight, not beating the air. I treat my body hard and make it obey me, for, having been an announcer myself,  I should not want to be disqualified."  1 Corinthians 9: 24-27
Posted on November 17, 2009 and filed under "exercise", "fitness".