“To Run” by Abbie Smith

Abbie Smith Dowling Catholic 2002

To run is to just let go. To run is to pray in thanksgiving for your glorious surroundings and just be thankful. To run is to pray in lieu of your sadness. To run is to be completely out of your control and in HIS. Running has taught me more in life, than I could have ever imagined. I started running as a means to be a better all-sport athlete, and in turn the art of running has shaped me into the woman, Christian, athlete and scholar that I am today. Looking back it’s easy to realize that God guided my path toward Him through running, by giving me just enough talent to see some running successes, but with just enough set-backs to keep continually striving forward. Initially, running was a means to improve my body physically. Run more miles, burn more calories… It was not too long after I started running for physical reasons, that I quickly realized running was so much more. In a time during high school when I needed nothing more than a loyal friend and father-figure, running became a daily ‘date’ with God, where I offered up my lungs and legs in return for his gentle voice and hand to push me up the hills and basins of life. As I struggled with self-esteem and self-acceptance, through running, God continued to demonstrate to me the talents that He had given me. He taught me the skills of dedication and consistency through training and improvements. He gave me opportunities to be a strong leader. He gave me injuries and pain to remind me that I am not in control. He taught me that my body was more than something physical, but instead it surrounded a strong soul and heart– something more valuable than just a skinny body. He taught me about passion and love of others through training and competition. And through running, He truly taught me that I can do anything, for He is always by my side. To this day, I recall upon the same verse from Matthew 6 that I would read and breathe as my running mantra: 25‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. As I am now beyond my competitive career, God still continues to present opportunities of Faith, Passion, Leadership, Knowledge and Self-worth through running. As I sit here and reflect upon where I am today, I find it ironic and seamlessly faith-filled that I am in a position to teach and mentor individuals about exercise and nutrition, which is incredibly enhanced by my experiences with running, competition and living a God centered life. More so, I find myself in places that were once thought to be out of reach, and presented with unimaginable opportunities, all signs that I am not in control. God has a plan for me. I am where I am today, because I learned to let God guide one foot in front of the other, to run to obtain the prize.

Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Dowling Catholic H.S.
Truman State University, BS-Academic All-American Cross Country, Track & Field
University of Oklahoma, MS, PhD