Friday, November 06, 2009
No Pain, No Gain
There is a curious side effect to aerobic exercise. After a certain period, usually about 20 minutes, the body releases endorphins ("any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and activating the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect" - Oxford English Dictionary) into the blood stream causing, what some have termed, "the runner's high."
For me this happens at precisely 22 minutes into my workout. The first 21 minutes of the bike-ride or run are mostly about pain and the persistent pleas of various joints and muscle groups to "cease and desist." But then, miraculously and quite wonderfully, at 22 minutes, my body's cries morph from "Stop, you idiot!" to "Nice going buddy...we're with you...go for it." If you've never experienced this, trust me, it can be rather addicting.
Similarly, there is a mysteriously potent comfort that comes to the faithful as they undergo various trials, afflictions and sufferings. It is a consolation so profound and so unlike the day-to-day graces that God regularly bestows, that those who have experienced it long to experience the heavenly solace again, even if it means obtaining it through suffering. As John Bunyan once wrote:
"Look how fears have presented themselves, so have supports and encouragements; yea, when I have started, even as it were at nothing else but my shadow, yet God, as being very tender of me, hath not suffered me to be molested, but would with one scripture or another, strengthen me against all; insomuch that I have often said, 'Were it lawful, I could pray for greater trouble, for the greater comfort's sake.'"