Run no. 29 – Running and the ‘Phantoms of Dread’


Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 40’58”

During the whole of the four and a half miles that I run, there is one particular step that I find the most challenging; and that is the first one, the one that takes me out through the door.

I lie in bed thinking “I should go for a run this morning”; but then the negative thoughts come rushing in, think how hard it might be, think how cold it might be…etc.

And the stark contrast between how warm and comfortable I am in bed and the imagined awfulness of struggling round in freezing conditions; and the choice between that and another 40 minutes in bed…

That first step is really hard to take.

But I managed to take it this morning, and you know what? It was ok. It actually wasn’t cold, it was pleasant. And I found that my run wasn’t painful, it felt comfortable; yet when I looked at my time it was ok, not too slow (well not for me, anyway!).

And when I finished and the endorphin kick came in and I actually felt good about it.

All of which made me start reflecting on the uselessness of dread in our lives.

I was dreading running, yet none of the elements I was dreading – the pain, the cold – even existed. They were figments of my dread yet they weighed heavy in my thinking and decision making and came close to altering my behaviour.

They were mere insubstantial phantoms – yet they might have easily changed my mind and actions.

I started wondering what other ‘phantoms of dread’ are active in my thinking and decision-making? What insubstantial fears prevent me from being and doing all that I might?

As usual my reflections turn to the spiritual life; what prevents me from going deeper with God; getting closer to Him; allowing Him to set the direction and content of my life?

What are the phantoms of dread that hold me back? Fear of what the cost might be? Yet what do I take with me to the next life anyway? As they say, “There are no pockets in a shroud”.

Fear of failure? Yet God calls us to obedience and faithfulness, not necessarily success.

Fear of unpleasantness? Yet God loves us, we are to call Him “Father”, does a loving father impose unnecessary suffering on His children. Any such struggles and difficulties He allows in our lives must have some possible benefit or redeeming possibility – otherwise He would not be true to His nature of love.

Good luck exorcising your phantoms of dread.