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  • Writer's pictureSam Danforth

Just Keep Going: Lessons from a Newbie Runner


running on sand
Just Keep Going: Lessons from a Newbie Runner

You know who you are. You’re the one who’s been on the border of transformation so many times. You’ve pulled into the parking lot of that gym multiple times only to pull a uwee to the first coffee shop because who actually has time for that and 5 am is out of the question. You’ve picked up that budgeting book because you know you want financial peace but the automatic transfer to your savings account eludes you. You’ve pulled out your computer to email that missionary therapist but quickly numb yourself with Facebook for the umpteenth time today instead.


I’ve been there too.


I’m the one who ran all through high school, college, and young mommy days and then let life’s demands crowd out my passion when I moved overseas for missions. I’m the one who sat on the couch and watched my sister-in-law push herself out the door day after day to crush tar with her Adidas. I’m the one who longingly scrolled past pictures of my friend jogging with her family and wanted all the same rewards but just . . .got busy.


I’m also the one who walked into our town’s family-owned shoe store a dozen times to buy all the right shoes for my kids and ask about their running programs. I hoped that my questions would unlock the mystery of what held me back from committing. And I’m the one who received a gracious and genuine answer every single time from the shop owner, Scott Gall. Scott gave me and my husband all of his attention and talked to us like we were already in the worldwide club of runners. Oh, how I wanted to be in that club, the club of people who possess discipline and who commit to run. Regularly.

Scott never judged me for not starting. He was just always there to answer my questions with kindness and patience. Then one day the seeds of a dozen conversations finally sprouted. I mustered up the courage to ask him for his 5K training program, even though I felt like a baby. He sent it to me, and I set a date on my calendar to start. I knew that I needed external accountability, so I asked my friend to do it with me. “We have to send each other pictures every day to prove that we did it.”


I was scared that I would last two weeks and then life would get busy as it always does. Or that the interruption of my move back to South Africa would interfere with my goals. Like it always has. But I set the start date and sent my friend a picture of day 1. Then I did day 2. I found out that I could re-prioritize my life and actually follow through with running when I moved back to South Africa.

Then I just kept going. I missed day 19 but made up for it on day 21. And yes, I felt like a baby. Yes, there was a day when I cried through my last mile at how slow my pace was. Yes, I was sore and slow. But the days turned into one full month of following the program every single day. Then two full months. Then I shaved a few minutes off my time. I wasn’t as sore, and I could breathe a little easier up that hill by the beach. And yes, I got plantar fasciitis my third month and had to take a break. But guess who’s back on the trails this week?


Through it all, I kept sharing photos with my friend, because some of us need support to crush our goals. Eventually, sharing daily photos was replaced with using a tracking app. As I reflected on all those visits to the shoe store, I began to think about the importance of patience and encouragement. I thought about all the times Scott answered my questions even though I hadn’t started. I thought about how many people walk in those doors asking him identical questions, promising themselves that they’ll start tomorrow. And I finally understood how vital it is for seeds of curiosity to be watered before they take root.

I slipped on my Brooks and thought about how many times I’ve shared about the God who transformed my life and it seemed to fall on deaf ears. I pounded through the trail and thought about the people who have needed to ask me questions about faith but weren’t ready to commit yet. I jogged past an eight-point buck bedded in the woods and contemplated how many times we need to ask the same questions before our hearts are prompted to action. I remembered how many times my sister-in-law talked to me about hope in Christ on our high school campus before it finally took root in me.


I was reminded of the patience, the conversations, and the people who had been part of my story of turning to Jesus. Sometimes we need to hear the same patient message repeated before something clicks and . . . it changes us. I clocked in my last slow mile and was glad that Scott hadn’t given up on our countless conversations about running. Because the day finally came when it took root in my heart and changed my life for the better.


So don’t be dismayed by the revolving door of conversations about faith that you’re having with the same person. Don’t push or judge. If they’re coming back for more, something might be happening under the surface. Those tenderly watered seeds might be ready to sprout. Keep nurturing those conversations, and you may become part of a beautiful transformation.


Originally published on A Life Overseas.


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