This morning I went for a run. Not just any run. THE run. A few years ago I would run all the time. I trained for and ran a half marathon and it was pretty much the culmination of my “running career”. In that season it was typical for me to work all day, go to class in the evening and then run 5 miles easy. But after that half marathon, my track record (pun intended) kind of dried up. I didn’t do too many more races and it seemed that season of distance running was behind me. (Distance to me is 4 miles or more). But I decided to do another half marathon this year as a symbol of the new work the Lord is doing in me in this season.
Can I just say that the body DOES NOT remember the former distances it USED TO run? LOL, I mean, running for hours years ago did not help me AT ALL this time around. No, my training pretty much started me at the beginning and I was just trying to get 2 miles in. But I kept telling myself, “Nicole, you did this before, you can do this again!” And it worked. It took determination and focus but I got my body to make it 3 miles on the treadmill. Every week I just kept increasing a little more and then I made it to 3.5 miles.
Can I just say that the treadmill is NOTHING compared to running outside??? So today I ran 4 miles outside and it was CRAZY. The sun was beaming down, I was running blindly b/c I had never ran this course before and the pavement was against me. Not to mention the course had several hills, one of which was at the very beginning. But I made it! And I reached a new place of spirituality in the midst of it. God showed me, it’s not even just the distance in this faith walk that matters. It is the course itself! We believers are called to go the distance. Christ endured so that we can also endure. But He didn’t just endure this smooth sailing path. No, He endured abuse and rejection and betrayal and every other form of pain that we mere humans encounter in our lives. And still, He finished His race. And no matter how difficult the races I have ran, I have finished every one.
I’ve noticed there are tools I use when I run that I want to share which I think you can also apply to this spiritual race:
1. Stay focused! I usually focus on a point in the distance when running on the treadmill but when running outside I only look a few feet in front of me on the ground. Especially when I am running uphill. No good runner thinks about how far they have to go (unless they are almost done). Instead they think about closer milestones such as, “let me just get to the next mile”. Even when there are other people around me I rarely will look at those people. I may encourage another runner by waiving or giving them the thumbs up sign but other than that, I am focused on my personal course.
2. Be mentally strong. I am always encouraging myself during my runs. “Nicole, you got this! You can do it! You’re almost there!” And because my runs are a spiritual form of worship I usually hear the Father saying these things to me. Being mentally disciplined is a vital component of running because so often the body FEELS that it can not complete the race, but as long as the mind BELIEVES it can, it does.
3. Train. You cannot expect to run a great distance without first running a short distance. After I ran my 3.5 miles and it nearly kicked my butt I thought, “How in the world will I get to 13 miles?” And the answer came swiftly. One mile at a time. You must have patience with yourself and be commited to training. Understand the results you want will not come overnight.
4. Take your time. Now this is a difficult one for me. I totally hate running slow. I mean, I use the word “running” loosely. I am really more of a jogger. But God’s word says this race is not for the swift. It is about endurance and in order to endure you must pace yourself. Your goal is not to run fast, but to finish the race. That means you need to dispense out your energy in increments.
5. Listen to your body. Your body will tell you if you are overdoing it and if you are overdoing it you need to lay off or you won’t have the stamina you will need to make it to the end. There are also times you may need to pick up the pace, get water, or take an energy gel.
There are times in my runs where it feels like I’m not going to make it. But I know from past experience that if I can push past those moments (which could last a while) than I will get to a “sweet spot”. These moments are like seasons in life. We have winter seasons and we have spring seasons and sometimes we have both at the same time. But when you live long enough and go through enough stuff, you learn that if you can just get past the winter seasons you will get to spring. When I get to my “spring” or my “sweet spot” I have transcended to another place entirely. I am with the Father. The mental, emotional, and spiritual components of my being are fully dependent on Him and I realize that I can do all things through Him. That is what happened on today’s run. But it took weeks of training to finally get there.
He is FAITHFUL.