Friday, November 26, 2010

capacity




About four years ago, in 2006, I started to run. I ran with my good friend Ros and we would chat away the miles, not realising how far we were running. 

The more we ran, the further we went. We pushed ourselves beyond the boundaries that our bodies and minds knew, learning physically and spiritually as we went. We ran in all weathers, greeting the dawn of the day in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Morning was our preferred time for running - with Ros being a Mum of three and I being a university student with a job - we had children and work to attend to.
Four years on, and I often wonder at how we did it. Let me explain a bit how things have changed. Until a year ago, I was running regularly, rarely having a break of more than a few days for my body to rest. This changed when I met John. In the early days of our relationship, I was living on far less sleep than my body had ever been used to, still working my two jobs that started at 8 in the morning and ending at 7 in the evening. They were long days and with this wonderful new man in my life who I needed to give time to, my capacity for running changed.

When we got engaged in March of this year, I felt a shift in my capacity again. I was now planning a wedding in any spare minute I had, working at school and childminding, and trying to maintain a relationship in a way that meant we didn't spend every moment together wedding planning. I physically felt like I did not have the strength to run. During those months, I consoled myself in the fact that my body was being exercised through my daily cycling to work. In those months of engagement, running would not have served as a means of strengthening me spiritually, it would have felt like a chore, something that I thought I should do rather than something I enjoyed doing.
Now, eight months on from our engagement, we are now married, and I find my capacity changing once again. I remember once asking my church leader if he had found his capacity increasing as he grew older. At the time of asking the question. I felt like my life was very full with different responsibilities and roles and could not envisage the day when I found it easier to juggle so many balls. In his wisdom, he explained to me that in marriage, your capacity increases. You are joined with another person to become one. In that process of joining and growing together in marriage, you are strengthened and enabled by the different skills and abilities of your spouse. This is something that I have found to be very true so far in the very short time I have been married. When one of us feels weak, the other is able to buoy the other up, spurring on where one might have otherwise stopped.

The week after we returned from our honeymoon, I started my PGCE - Post Grad training to become a Primary School teacher. The course splits my time between lectures at university in Bath, and teaching at a school in Portishead. Where I was once able to cycle to my jobs, I now have to spend about 5 hours a week driving. My mode of transportation slows me down completely and reduces my physical activity to the point where I have started to feel like I need to run again. I need to get my body moving, to remind it of what it is capable of. To stretch my complacent limbs and feel the gentle ache of good exercise. My capacity is once again changing due to other areas of my life slowing down.

On Tuesday evening as I ran, I thought about how the slowing down and settling of my life has caused my capacity to run to increase once again. In one sense I am now travelling greater distances than before, but in a way that requires nothing of my body.  In making my body redundant, it's as though I am realising what it needs to be doing to feel more alive and well. As I ran, it felt like my body was remembering how to respond well to being pushed physically. I loved the feeling of my feet and my heart pounding to the rhythm of the music in my ears. All that I could feel was my body responding to these things, as though running on autopilot, not having to consciously take every step as my body yelled at me to 'stop!' because it hurt. 


The memorable quote made by Eric Liddell in the film Chariots of Fire came to mind while running through the streets of Bristol: 

'...when I run, I feel God's pleasure...'

There is pleasure to be had in running and I love that I am starting to remember that pleasure again, where for so long, that pleasure has been replaced by complacency & weariness.

2 comments:

PelleasAnthor said...

Nice one.

Ros De Silva said...

How is it you always manage to make me cry when I read your blog! Meet you at 6.30 am Friday morning?