Posted by: David Stewart | May 27, 2009

The Power of the Turn

I was powering through my endurance run this morning in my neighborhood – 7 miles at a quick pace.  I was firing up a gentle incline on Lombard Street in Beaverton between Allen and Denny, and I could see my next turn ahead at the top of the hill.

That turn became a short-term focal point for me to organize myself mentally, get up the little hill, and power through the turn and keep going.

Elite runners (of which I am not) will prefer to minimize turns. In fact, the organizers of the Portland Marathon advertize that their race course "has only 21 turns." This is because racers in an endurance event like to get into a rhythm, running mile after mile without breaking stride. A turn means a mental and physical interruption of that rhythm. Even when you’re driving a car or riding a bike, you need to slow down in a turn, so you don’t lose control.

But life is full of turns. We have turns wired into our very being –

  • The rising and setting of the sun every day forces us to change our activity level, or we risk out health
  • The turn of the seasons causes us to change our attitudes and approaches to things. I always feel ready to start school in September, even though my formal schooling ended ages ago.
  • Seasons of life change as well, some of them are planned but others are quite unexpected.

When my sister’s husband died, she found herself to be a widow in her 40s, and living in a foreign country. How do you make it through such a turn? How do you keep from going off the road and into the weeds?

Turns have a power to remind us of the race ahead. We’re wired up to anticipate some of these, but others come as a surprise. We can’t power through them the same way as we run the straightaway. We can resent these, or we can learn from them, and understand the power they have to grow us to be the runner we were meant to be.

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