I believe in the power of sweat. Sweat from physical, mental, and emotional exertion. Sweat signifying motivation, dedication, and achievement.
I made it my goal to sweat more mid-way through my first semester of college at Eastern Mennonite University. I had fallen into what I thought was the normal freshman routine. I stayed up late, did my homework at the last minute and took naps on every possible occasion. I realized that I needed to make some changes in my lifestyle if I wanted to be healthy and feel good. My specific goal that year was to run five days a week. My larger goal, however, was to do something that pushed myself physically, mentally or emotionally, every day.
I recall one run that year in particular. On that day, I had to motivate myself to start out on my four mile loop. I had eaten lunch only a few hours prior, and the sluggish afternoon feeling had crept its way up my legs, through my upper body, and was about to convince me to take a nap, when I begrudgingly realized it was time for my run.
As I began, every step was a struggle. I barely lifted my feet off the pavement, trying to use the least amount of energy I could with each step. My arms and my feet felt out of sync. As I turned the corner and began running down the hill, the sweet smell of the dog-food factory near my school reminded me with every breath that I was not, yet, far from where I began.
I crossed the train tracks half a mile into my run and started up the road taking me out into the country. For a minute, then two, then three, my mind wondered from my steps, and from the factory and car smells and from my classes and from my run. Then, finally, rhythm came, the wonderful sense of my body finding a rhythm: step, step, breath, step, step, breath, step, step, breath.
As I turned the corner, on the last stretch back to school, I began sprinting up the hill. Sweat covering my skin; I embraced the moment because I knew that the pain in my legs and the burn in my lungs signified that I was about to done. Success.
As I stood and stretched, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment. If nothing else, I had overcome one obstacle that day. I felt energized physically, mentally and emotionally.
Sweat, like school, work, relationships, and faith does not always come easily. But the feeling of facing, persevering and accomplishing an intimidating task, leaves me more confident in myself and what I can achieve. This feeling of achievement is what breaking a sweat gives me. This is the power of sweat. It is what I believe in.
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