Running is Redemption

Image of Michael and Ruthie Dean

On Saturday, thousands of people-runners, people that would qualify as ‘elderly’, costume-clad individuals, & even non-athletes-awoke before dawn and gathered around Centeniel Park for the annual Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon. Adrenaline & the god-aweful smell from the porta potties wafted over the streets; people checked their watches obsessively counting down ’til race time; runners did various pre-race routines. The National Anthem was sung, the gun shot, and the race began! People lined the streets for miles with all kinds of costumes & posters (my favorite: “You paid to do this-now SMILE!”). Words really cannot describe the I’m-in-the-middle-of-thousands-grunting-up-these-hills feeling-it really is a “runners high” at its finest.

My favorite part of marathons is seeing the runners who have the message written all over them: “this race is redemption for me”. It’s the woman who recently lost 100 pounds. It’s the man who beat cancer-and has a fan club on the side of the road telling the world : “Cancer can’t catch Johnny”. The elderly man with a shirt on declaring he’s churning out 13.1 miles for his late wife. Or the hundreds of people who do 26.2 miles in a wheelchair.

Back in the fall, I was training for another half marathon and I wrote in my prayer journal:

“I realized why I love running.  Running is, for me, symbolic of redemption. I was never athletic when I was little. I was overweight. I was always the last one picked for the sports teams.

But something about running “on wings like eagles” reminds me that you can redeem all things. All those times I was on the softball field and made fun of  because I was ‘the worst’. All those times I was picked last.

Running is just a piece of you redeeming the past, but redemption nevertheless. May I continue to run and glorify you with my body.”

You Might Consider Training for a Half-Marathon If. . .

If you are depressed, train for a half-marathon and see how your mood lifts every day after your run. If you are overweight, those pounds will not evaporate without some serious hard work. Some people lose 30-40 pounds while training for half-marathons. If you are insane, i.e. doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results in your fitness & appearance. TIME TO SIGN UP! Nothing will change without a goal and some accountability. If you are single, joining a running group is a great way to meet someone! If you want to save money, ditch the gym membership & hit the road! If you recently overcame an illness, nothing like solidifying the ‘win feeling’ than by training and crossing the finish line. If you need the reminder that Christ can redeem everything? RUN! Think about the ‘impossible’ becoming a reality in crossing that finish line.

Loosen your grip on your own desires, put yourself through a little bit of daily pain, and sign up for a half marathon. Our culture could use a lesson in delayed gratification. Just like choosing vegetables over chocolate or purity now for a deeper connection with your spouse later, the future of crossing that finish line is well worth the pain now. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you. Over time, it will get easier & become enjoyable. Promise. It happened to me (remember, I was the overweight 5th grader?). Before you know it, you’ll be calling yourself a RUNNER.

Have you ever completed a half or full marathon? What can you tell us about the feeling? Anyone now considering training? 

Country Music Marathon

Ruthie, Jamie, and Andrea at the finish line of the Country Music


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19 Responses to “Running is Redemption”
  1. Danelle says:

    congrats! what # half was this for you? Any ambitions to do a full? :) I love the redemptive lens- I was that same non-athlete in hs (besides being a dancer my whole life- I could not do ball-sports) I am hoping to do the R&R 1/2 in Savannah in November! Should be nice weather and a pretty run! Trying to convince D.R. to run it with me.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Thanks! It was #8 for me. I do want to run a marathon-it’s just convincing Michael to let me:) He is worried about my knees & all the time it will take to train. We compromised this year with me running 2 1/2s and taking the summer completely off running. I’m thinking I’ll do next year’s country music full marathon, depending on if life slows down for us! What about you?

      • Danelle says:

        marriage does throw a wrench in our “ambitions”. it’s a very good wrench though, eh? :) With D.R.’s stamp of approval, I’ll either do The Solider 1/2 or full marathon here in Columbus in November or the Rock & Rock 1/2 in Savannah in November. I don’t want to train until it cools off this fall. I refuse to run more than 8 miles in this southern heat. Hello 5K season! haha!!!

  2. Paul says:

    Running the half marathon is a “top 5″ accomplishment in my life. I’ve run 3 races here and 1 in Tucson..low humidity and mid 40’s to begin the race in Arizona…December. The discipline to run, build strength, hydrate and prepare mentally is amazing. Two years ago, out of 33,000 walkers and runners, I finished 20th in my age group. A big deal when you consider there were only 100 men in that group. I have a bone spur in my knee…causes me uncomfortableness at night but I still run. So proud of you..youngster, and all the people who rise above. Prepare..prepare …prepare…then celebrate.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Running a half marathon definitley qualifies as a huge accomplishment. I love the “prepare…prepare…prepare…then celebrate.” Very true! Finishing 20th in your age group is huge! Congrats. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Miriam Rose Baker says:

    Ruth! I love that you posted this! I ran a 5K on saturday and although it is probably time for me to push myself to do something longer, there is a certain solidarity in chugging up the hill with 5000 other people. For me you know I”m in a bad spot because I am running…there is definitely a redemptive type of healing that goes on in all that time in your head. Love your blog. I read it everyday!
    Much love

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Miriam! I’m so glad you commented. . .and that you read my blog. Come to Nashville next April (bring Rachel) and we can all run together! Hope to see you in these parts regardless.

  4. Edward Lin says:

    Oh man, I have to admit that I approach running like I do salads…I’ll put up with it now and then because it’s good for me, but can’t honestly say that I enjoy it. To be fair, I did give running a chance and diligently trained for a full and another half marathon. Still, I can relate to what you shared about movement and action being a redeeming / uplifting experience and finally achieving what you never thought should be possible. I just get my “fix” elsewhere :)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      A full! Wow, impressive. As I said, it’s certainly not for everyone-but most people won’t even try because the first few times (or months) are painful. I’m curious where you get your fix. . .do share.

  5. Christy says:

    Love this post! I hated running for most of my life, but a few years ago I got stuck on it after running my first 5k. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing the finish line and clocking new PRs. I’m currently training for my first half marathon right now (June 9) so this is a great reminder for me as I’m in the middle of training!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Christy! So great to hear your story. I’ll be anxious for an update after your first half on June 9th. Way to go!

  6. You just put all my thoughts and feelings about running into words. My physio finally gave me the thumbs up to start running again after my broken ankle- and I’ve been feeling so much more at peace again. Here’s to overcoming that chubby version of ourselves! ;)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      I love this, Bethany! A broken ankle-huh? Awful. Yes, here’s to overcoming the chubby version of ourselves!:)

  7. Mary Ellen says:

    I loved this post. Every bit is true about running for me also. I find it to be a way to escape the sometimes mundane life… when you feel like days are just repeating.. or when a day feels depressing.. after a run it is rejuvenated! I am not saying that every run is enjoyable for me, but I live for the ones that are… when I feel like I could keep running forever… those are the moments and feelings I live for. They are addicting.
    I feel truly blessed and lucky to have the strong legs and lungs to be able to run.. many people and children do not. I was reminded of this when raising support for St. Judes… I am healthy and keep breathing.. praise the Lord for he is GOOD!
    Thank you for your inspiring words!

    -Mary Ellen

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Mary Ellen! I was so glad to see you at the end of the marathon. Love that you’ve found time to run (even when it’s not always fun)-and it really is so helpful to break up the week. We are so fortunate to be able physically to run-you’re right! Thanks for commenting.

Check out what others are saying…
  1. […] Running is redemption.  If you read the linked post, that expresses for me, better than what I can put into words, why I’ve started trying to run.  I was and still am not athletic.  I wasn’t the kid that played piano and read books.  I was picked last for sports teams.  Setbacks are unavoidable.  So is pain and woundedness. […]

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