When The Treadmill Stops Suddenly – 5 Tips For Handling Life Stopping Experiences

February 11, 2013 — 11 Comments

I’ve been logging running mileage again, and it feels great.  Most of my miles these days are happening on the treadmill at the gym thanks to the cold weather and early morning darkness that blankets our area at this time of the year.

The other day, I was up early running a quick 4.5 miles at our local YMCA.  I had the treadmill ramped up to 7.8 miles per hour (which for me is a pretty decent pace).  While I’m on the treadmill, I listen to podcasts and glance up at the televisions to see the latest sports highlights and news updates.  About a mile into my run as I was lost in my own world, the treadmill suddenly stopped.

Imagine driving your car at 65 miles an hour and it suddenly stops completely.  Or imagine riding your bicycle at 15 miles an hour when someone jams a stick in your spokes.

This is how it felt when the treadmill stopped for me.  I somehow managed to catch myself before a complete catastrophe occurred.  The guy running next to me commented, “Wow!  Nice catch.”  I tried to get the treadmill back up and running, but it wouldn’t power up and restart.  I switched treadmills and continued my workout.

Sometimes life is like this.  We are coasting along when something happens in our lives that brings things to a screeching halt.  It’s happened in my life a few times – like the time I crashed my car two weeks before my wedding, like when my wife was rushed to the hospital shortly after our son was born, and like the moment I learned that my grandfather had passed away six years ago.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’ve learned a few things through life events like these.

  1. Hang on.  Sometimes this is all we can do.  When we don’t understand, when we don’t know the plan, we can trust God and hang on to His hand.  I remember asking during these times, “Why?”  Even in the toughest moments, we must remember that He will never leave us.

    “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Joshua 1:5

  2. Trust God.  In times like this, I’ve gone back to Proverbs 3:5-6 as a promise that God will make my paths straight even when life doesn’t make sense.

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

  3. Lean into family and friends.  I can’t tell you how much family and friends have meant to our family when life’s train seems to have derailed.  It helps to know that someone is praying for me, is willing to talk or listen as I wrestle through the challenges of life, and is willing to be there when I can’t fully focus on my daily needs.  If you’re missing this in your own life, I’d encourage and challenge you to seek out this kind of friendship.  Our church small group experience has provided many of these types of friendships.
  4. Consider a change.  Sometimes a life stopping experience can be the catalyst to positive change in our lives.  This week, I switched treadmills.  Maybe these experiences are a call to change direction.

    “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

  5. Learn and grow.  Life halting experiences can be life altering experiences if we take time to learn and grow.  This is why I recommend a journal or even a blog as a way to record life’s happenings.  I have learned so much through the major speed bumps of life and the blog and my journal have become great places to record and process these experiences.

I returned to the gym this morning to run more on the treadmill.  I’m sure I was a bit more cautious, but I’m ready to keep going.  I’m thankful for the reminder that a simple treadmill experience can provide.  I have no idea what the rest of the day holds, but I look ahead with confidence knowing that it will be okay no matter what transpires.

What have you learned from a life stopping experience?  What other tips do you have for handling these kinds of times?

Jon Stolpe


Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...
  • http://www.facebook.com/dstolpe David Paul Stolpe

    Not sure I have any profound comment to make this morning so I will just say I love that ok go video and Sam and I love watching all off their videos together. I also regularly show them in the cafeteria during my Monday montage features at school.

  • bethinnc

    I think that is great advice. Both of my parents died 5 weeks apart, less than a year ago. Their last year was really difficult for them and for me. I’d say it stopped me. I am finally breaking free from the cement that my feet seemed to be stuck in lately. God is good to us! (And I really need to be running! Mercy.)

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Time does heal wounds, but the wounds and struggles leave us changed forever. Thanks for stopping by bethinnc! I hope you’ll come back and be a part of The Stretched Community.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TPCZKWKBQW2BTKKXTXQ5P4N64I David

    I’ve learned that life goes on and we must move forward. But as we move forward we are changed in some small way, or sometimes maybe some big way. The death of my best friend as a young adult (he was 19, I was 18) changed me because I viewed him as a better friend to me than I was to him. And though, all these years later, I’ve never developed a new “best friend” I think I have become better at being a friend because of the loss of my best friend. On the flip-side though, I also do not seek out new friendships as much as I probably should. The loss of my 2 year old nephew many years ago was another life changing, treadmill stopper. But it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I really appreciated the “world” stopper that it was (and is still) for my brother and sister-in-law.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Wow, David. These are life stoppers for sure.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    When going through a hard time, I tried to take a deep breath and ask God for clarity and perspective. I want to learn and grow, not repeat the same mistakes (as I tend to do).

    When I lost my dad, my world turned upside down…it was then I truly learned who God is to me- my Father! That changed everything. I’m not the same person I was and in a way, my dad keeps teaching me- even from the grave.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      This is a great perspective, TC.

  • arny

    Those are dead on points…
    i went through each one of those when my dad had his stroke…
    Good Word Jon!

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Thanks, Arny! I think our times of trouble and struggle can be a gift in leading us to a new understanding of God’s love and plan for our lives.

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    I have leaned on God, family, and friends when life stopping events happen. When my son was born the Dr.s said he would not survive, our faith and support really helped us through that time. My son is currently screaming his head off because he is tired and won’t go to sleep. He is such a blessing and miracle. Great post bro!

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      It’s amazing how your perspective changes following a life halting experience.