Why I Wear Running Shirts (But Don’t Run)

IMG_0333Every evening I walk around Barrouaille at 5:00 because it gives a chance to catch up with people, and is thankfully a cooler time of day.  Usually I’ll wear a collared shirt with jeans, but on particularly hot days I will wear a pair of shorts and a running shirt with the words Fleet Feet Sports Emblazoned across it.

Now I’m not wearing that running shirt to draw attention to myself, or because I am a runner (small roads and big trucks make running difficult).  Instead those shirts reminds me of the community of runners who I left in the States.

I started Fleet Feet training one winter when my desire to run was overcome by my desire to stay inside where it was warm.  Two-years later I was still part of the programs because of the friendships.

During training runs with partners I’ve discussed culture, tv and movies, politics, personal struggles or goals , and even religion!  Eventually group training became a source of happiness (particularly on a frustrating day) because I knew it would be spent with good friends.

And in a way that running shirt brings back a flood of memories

  1. The day I and a friend in speed group two caught up with the runners in speed group one on a Monday night after trying unsuccessfully for weeks
  2. The day in marathon training I ran thirteen miles at race pace….from that point on running twenty and twenty-four wasn’t that big of a deal
  3. The Tuesday night in the end of winter when it was snowing at the bottom of a hill, and sunny at the top
  4. The Saturday morning we ran in thirty-degree temperatures and rain.  The most miserable run of my life, but prepared me or a marathon better than anything
  5. Starting with three people in a running group I mentored (others went between running and walking) and ending with twelve
  6. Seeing people who couldn’t run a mile finish three miles eight weeks later and celebrate like rock stars

The thing is Fleet Feet was a community of strong relationships for me….and I wear the running shirts though I probably couldn’t run a half-mile without getting winded right now because it helps me remember those people who ran with me.

I guess in the end another reason I wear them is because of the lesson Fleet Feet taught me.  People can accomplish things they never imagined…as long as someone does it with them.

Trust me when I say getting up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning when it’s thirty-five degrees outside isn’t something I would do willingly on my own.  But because of the relationships with people there I was actually excited to do it, and legitimately angry the Saturday mornings my alarm didn’t go off.

As the Missionary my heart dreams of the day the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Barrouaille, St. Vincent would become a Fleet Feet community for the people here.  A place where people will be loved, accepted, and challenged to grow spiritually as they are introduced to a Savior who died for the sins of all mankind.

I’m not sure if people will ever walk around town with t-shirt that have the words “Tabernacle Baptist Church” across the front but that’s okay.  The important thing is remembering all individuals crave for community.  And once they find that it becomes much more than a shirt…it becomes part of their identity.

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