There are a variety of ways to engage in the activity of running. You can join a running club. You can find a running buddy at your gym or pair up with someone from work. But there is something to be gained by going at it alone.
I will warn you, if you venture to tackle the world of running on your own there will be challenges. When you grow weary there is no one beside you to lift your spirits and cheer you on. If you fall down there is no one to stop and help you up. If you stumble there is no one there to catch you before you hit the ground. When you reach the finish line, or the end of your designated run time or distance, there is no one to give you a high-five or congratulations. On the days that you don't feel like lacing up your sneakers you won't have an accountability partner, no one keeping track of your progress to remind you of your plan and goals. If you are going to complete your run, stick to your training plan and see progress than the burden falls to you.
This practice of going at it alone on a run is really just a training ground for the rest of life. Will you be able to travel through the ups and downs of life even when there is no one there to support you, encourage you and just simply keep you company on the journey?
Will you choose to stay in bed instead of going for the run because there is no one around to see you break the promise you made to yourself to complete a five mile run?
Are you relying on other people to get you through this journey called life?
It is a common saying that, "You come into this world alone and you leave this world alone." To some it may seem like a heartless thing to say. What about friends? What about having a spouse and children and a family? Aren't those relationships important and beneficial?
Certainly relationship can be a blessing but it isn't THE blessing and it isn't a necessity for happiness. In fact, sometimes relationships can get in the way of our primary relationship - our first relationship.
When we become dependent on other people we stop becoming dependent on God. Instead of looking to Him to satisfy our needs, emotionally and physically, we begin to look to the people around us. When we are down we look for our friends and family to pick us up instead of turning to God. When we need motivation we ask a friend for words of encouragement instead of opening our Bibles.
That first place in our life becomes filled with the people around us because they seem easily accessible and visible. We can touch and feel them. We can easily hear their voice by picking up our phones or meeting up for coffee. We get a sounding board and immediate feedback.
The people in our lives can easily become place-holders, taking over the first chair position that God should hold. We stop turning to God and scripture. Instead we turn to the easily accessible and readily available.
But when you run this journey of life alone you don't have those people to turn to. You are alone with no friend to phone. There is no one to complain to when your calves get sore half way through your run. When you don't feel like even beginning that 5K there is no one to say, "Come on! You can do it! Just think of how great you'll feel when you've accomplished your goal!"
No. You only have one place to turn.
And that's up.
You have only one place to look...up.
You can only phone God. He is the only one who will answer. He is the only one who is taking your calls. Because there is no social network. There is no other support system. You don't have the luxury (or the curse) of having other people to fill His place. He is your sustainer and your portion. God and God alone.
This is the beautiful blessing of running alone. You get the opportunity to learn this principle with every stride forward, every mile covered. You are in this journey alone. You and God. When you are in pain or grow weary He is the one you are to call on to sustain you. When you want to give up He is the only one to motivate you to continue on. He is your cheerleader and your encourager. He is the only one there to remind you that you are capable of running further and faster. He is the only one to call on when the hill seems too steep and the road seems too treacherous.
He is your lifeline, your one phone call. God and God alone will carry you through the toughest of runs and the most challenging of life's trials. Because when you run solo there is simply no one else to turn to.