Guest post from my husband: Running

My husband asked how I would feel about him sharing one of his recent journal entries here on my blog. I told him how much I would love it. We have been walking a difficult journey these past five months, and I’ve realized that honesty matters only a little less to me than loyalty does: the perfect catch-22 for a writer. I trust his judgment, and his words feel redemptive, protective, perfect to me. Thank you for listening.


I hate running.

I wake at 6:00 AM, intending to run. I lie half-asleep until 6:05 AM, when my second alarm sounds.

I get dressed and think that perhaps I will not run today. My legs are sore from running yesterday. Rain is sprinkling. A quiet morning of coffee and scripture beckons. I have catch-up work to do. Maybe I will run tomorrow. I don’t have to run each day, just three times a week.

But tomorrow I have a morning meeting, and I will not have time to run. I have a morning meeting the next day, too.

So I put on my running shoes and open my phone to review my podcast queue. I don’t want to get halfway and find my podcast app playing something boring that might make me hear the complaints of my 40-year-old body instead. Or worse yet, that “buffering” delays the next podcast and the app plays nothing at all.

I want food while I run. I want stories, ideas and tools to catch hold of, something to bite into and chew. Listening to podcasts by Bluetooth headset while I run combines a pleasure with a discipline. I ponder the podcast while I train my body.

I start my podcast and launch the 5K workout app, week 5, workout 2. Warm up, walk briskly for 5 minutes. I walk the lane and down the road, not sure which route I will take. We live near four intersections and three hills. Lots of options, some more difficult than others. I like to take old routes, see how much further I can go this time. But sometimes I take new roads. This morning I head down Thurston toward Washington.

Run for 8 minutes. Eight! Last workout was 5 minutes’ run, max. Haven’t pushed that hard for a while. I can do this. I settle into a rhythm.

I used to run like a kid. I was light, fast, nimble. I could sprint on my tiptoes indefinitely. I can’t do that anymore. Now I’m bigger, heavier, stronger. My teenage son outruns me. I tire too quickly. I exhaust my air supply faster while firefighting. I almost collapsed after venting an attic earlier this year. Driving a mouse for a living doesn’t develop physical endurance. Ever since my bout with pneumonia, my lungs have a diminished capacity.

I’m listening to Matt Dobschuetz’s interview with Jay and Lori Pyatt about helping couples and specifically partners of porn addicts heal. Moments of self-recognition make me wince. I briefly console myself that I was never as deeply addicted or as deceptive as Jay. Fifteen years of hell, his wife Lori says. But my deception spans the last several years, and I know my wife’s pain is just as real. I think of recommending the episode to her. She may find it helpful.

Walk for 5 minutes. Whew. A break. That pushed me hard. I’m on Washington St, a busier road than most I run. Cars zip by, reminding me there are faster ways to get from here to there than running, that if the destination is the goal there are easier ways to get there.

I don’t find the podcast that practical or helpful. I recognize my own story in Jay’s, but they didn’t provide lots of tools or tips for hurting women. I decide I will look up their websites and request some free resources.

Halfway mark. I don’t like turning around. I’ll push a little further, catch a sidestreet back. Turn left on North Morgan, head toward North and the road back to Thurston.

Run for 8 minutes. Wow, this 5K app doesn’t let up. Leg muscles hurt. This is hard. I hate running when my legs feel like this. At least my feet aren’t on fire. I bought better shoes at a sale, actual running shoes, and now my feet aren’t raw and aching.

Sometimes the 5K app doesn’t work right. Last two runs, I had the battery saver mode turned on, and it recorded the workouts as a big fat zero. The map of my run was a single dot, like I never moved from my starting point. The records don’t always reflect my actual progress. But I can feel it.

My body’s complaints become louder than the podcast. This is hard. I feel my feet slap the pavement, feel the pain of a sore knee, feel the wheeze of my diminished lungs. I can’t get the cadence right on this path, where the grass in the sidewalk cracks makes me adjust my gait to avoid them. But I feel determined, too, that I’ve got this, and it will be worth it. I want this. I want to win.

The episode finishes and I’m on to the next Matt D podcast, Dave’s Five Mistaken Beliefs about Porn. Who’s Dave? Oh, a guy in recovery, two years sober. He thinks a lot like me.

I pass Mr. K’s house, and he’s out on his side deck smoking his morning cigarette. I think about calling out to him that freedom from addiction is possible, that I’m kicking my habit and he can, too. Maybe he doesn’t want to stop. It probably looks like hard work. It is. I wave and run on. He waves back.

Workout complete. Now cool down for five minutes. Whew. Two 8-minute running stretches, with a 5-minute walking break. That was difficult, but I feel great. I’m sweating, I’m tired, but I feel amazing and I know I’m winning.

I pull my phone from my pocket to record how I’m feeling on the 5K app. It didn’t record the run. Somehow in the last five minutes of walking it reset, and no progress was recorded. But I know. (Later I measure the distance on Google Maps, because numbers matter. 2.95 miles.)

Back home, I sit down for a couple minutes to rest, then make some coffee so it’s ready when I return from my shower.

I peel off my sweat-soaked clothing and drop it in the laundry. I weigh myself. 178lbs. Three pounds away from my goal. I like running.

Well, I hate running. I love winning.

– Ryan Zook

Thank you for listening. We love each other, and we are going to make it. What are you running to overcome?

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3 years ago

Yes – you do love each other, and you will make it! I am actually not running at all (but should be) But in my more sedentary way, I seek to overcome things too – Despair. A need to know things before its time – control. Thank you for offering your words, Ryan.

Kim Z
3 years ago

Well written post. We love you both, you will make it & you will be stronger because of it! Xoxo

3 years ago

Cheering from the sidelines for both of you. I know you’re going to make it!!!

3 years ago

I want to cheer you on too; keep up the fight!! So grateful for the healing and redemption found in Christ!!!! I need it, we all need it.

3 years ago

God bless you both as you learn all over again the meaning of Unconditional Love.
Did you ever watch Fireproof, by the Kendrick brothers? It is about a fireman and his wife and how they overcome in their marriage. We like the teaching of true love in their touching story.
God bless you also for sharing.

3 years ago
Reply to  Marc

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, we watched that movie several years ago. The firefighting was completely unrealistic, which was a big turnoff for me. The movie had a good message, but looking back I think it emphasized big sacrificial decisions that build a relationship, when I find small sacrificial decisions more significant over time.

Regina Shea
3 years ago

Thank you to the both of you so much for sharing. I know this couldn’t have been easy. As for me, I’m running to overcome fear of the future. I don’t mean fear of COVID or the economy but fear of what would happen if my husband died or I died or even one of my daughters died. We are getting up in years with me being 59 and him 64. I fear for the souls of two of my daughters with one making some unwise choices.

Danette Martin
3 years ago

Both of you are courageous and I’m cheering you on! Adapting a song I heard recently, I share this invitation to “Run to Jesus, and live.” (Could we even say run WITH Jesus, and live?)
If I’d be running to overcome something it would be fear of failure. Your second last blog post about the Gospel of Brokenness was very timely for me, too. Thank you for sharing.

Barbara Coblentz
3 years ago

Love you, son! And your wife!! ❤️❤️

3 years ago

You have hit a tender spot for some of us…In the middle of intense pain we just want to fast forward and be a year or more in the future…patiently walking (or running????) through it is another matter entirely. Pain seems to stretch in front of you without a horizon of hope. May God keep you! May you both find that Redemption is full and deep and indescribable. That horizon IS ahead!

Julie Glick
3 years ago
Reply to  Yoder

Thank you, this was beautiful.

3 years ago

Ow, this is hard to read because it hits close to home. My husband says intense accountability is his main help. Besides having a few men he is committed to being accountable to, he also started a group where he helps hold other men accountable. As a wife, I feel so vulnerable, not enough, hurt, wondering why something created to be so good has to be so broken. It can be hard to trust, to relinquish control, to avoid being a watchdog. Blessings to both of you. Shining Light in a dark place destroys the darkness.

3 years ago
Reply to  wife

May God meet you and your husband with grace. I’m glad he found some men to be accountable to, and wanting to help others is a good sign. Anyone recovering alone is still in denial.

3 years ago

You guys will make it!! You are both fighters. ❤️

3 years ago

I get this. It’s our journey of the past three months. Betrayal, pain, redemption, and the journey of brokenness and healing that’s all blended into a chaotic panorama. We love each other too, and we’ll make it- but it’s just so hard. As a wife, I’m always looking for insight and understanding, so I hope you keep writing. ????

3 years ago

Since I read this, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and loyalty and the value I place on them. And about the fear and self-doubts that keep me from reaching my goals. A couple days ago I read that there are only two fears: the fear of death and the fear of life. It has been so freeing and motivating to lump all those crippling fears under one heading. The fear of life. Not the fear of failure, rejection, disappointment, or betrayal. Those things are all a part of life, and why would I be cowering in my corner, fearing to live? Sometimes death looks easier than continuing to run, but we keep on running and choosing life. May God carry you both.

3 years ago
Reply to  Lovina


3 years ago

This post hits a raw nerve. I didn’t know. I sensed there was a pain behind some of these posts, but I didn’t know it was That One. When someone who is part of the foundation of your life struggles, it shakes you, to the core.
Blessings to both of you. Getting up and going on. Facing-life. Rebuilding. And being real- with us. You wouldn’t have had to.

3 years ago

May God bless you both for your honesty!????

3 years ago

You’ve both earned my respect here (although that doesn’t matter). I see integrity and transparency, and I can imagine the pain and other emotions that must be present too. God be near.

Lucinda J
3 years ago

This helped me. Thank you.

[…] – there are a few things I need you to know after Running. One is that my husband did not make a disclosure here for his own sake. His confessions have […]

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