The “runner’s high.” Some say it is a myth. Others, like myself, say it is real, but it is rare. And because it‘s rare, it’s not the reason for running.
If possible, I prefer to do my daily run in the morning. But I must say, the older I get, the more difficult this is becoming. When I awake, my lower body needs some encouragement. As I put my feet on the floor, I then begin to shuffle until the various joints get the message: “He is risen.” Indeed, but barely. After my coffee and my time in the word and prayer, I face my first challenge of the day: Will I run today? The spirit is willing, but O that flesh!
Most mornings, I go through the ritual of saying, either to myself or to Jill, “I hate running.” Then I lace up my shoes and run. And, yes, for the first several hundred metres I loathe the experience. But I have learned over the years that, if I keep at it, eventually the parts of my body that hurt will go numb, my breathing will settle down, I will get into a rhythm, and I will be as happy as a clam. In fact, one reason I run is to kickstart those sluggish but full-of-potential endorphins. Once they start flowing, I forgot all about how miserable I felt earlier and my day is off to a better start. And, occasionally, I experience the runner’s high.
Over the past 45 years, I have enjoyed some of those. It’s a sense that you can run forever without any struggle. But it is a novelty and, by definition, a novelty is rare.
Now, I don’t run in order to experience this high. Rather, because I run a lot, I eventually will have the experience. To live for the experience will only lead to disappointment. But having it occasionally produces enough hope that I keep at it. And such is the Christian life.
The Christian life is difficult, that is why it is likened to a fight or a race. Following Jesus means sweating as we fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. But along the way, we occasionally have those wonderful highs of the love of God being exceptionally shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5), or we experience an amazing answer to prayer, or some verse or passage of Scripture radically affects us. Praise God for those times! But don’t rely on them. Rather, remember them, steward them in your heart but continue to follow the Lord even when it takes all the effort you can muster just to put on your spiritual tekkies.
The apostle Paul had the extreme spiritual high of being caught up to the third heaven. He had no words to explain such an experience. Besides 2 Corinthians 12, Paul never spoke of it elsewhere. Nevertheless, he remained faithful “through many dangers, toils, and snares.”
As grateful as he was for what happened, it appears that he learned to appreciate God’s daily grace for his daily race.
Let me encourage you as you head into your day. Perhaps you are not too excited about what you are facing. Perhaps you are facing the day with trepidation or uncertainty. Nevertheless, as you “lace up” and “hit the road,” commit yourself to being faithful in your mundane. You may encounter the high of a miracle. But if you don’t, you will have the deep contentment that you have pleased your Father who is in heaven, cheering you on as you run the race he has set before you (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Running with you,