Recently, I was given the opportunity to write a short paper and answer 4 questions concerning how the Christian faith relates to running. The questions/answers were based on Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Question 3: How should we run?
First, I must believe and trust in the training I’ve done, knowing that I’ve put in the work and the effort to run my best. I also know and believe in my mind that I can do it. I know that at times during the race it’s going to get tough and it will hurt, but I must remind myself to keep going. Every part of my body is telling me to stop, but I won’t listen, because I know that the pain isn’t going to last forever. When I go through tough spots during a race, my mind must be stronger than what I am feeling at that point. I must tell myself I can, and in so doing my body will follow. You might wonder, why I don’t just give up and stop when it hurts? Is the pain really worth the goal? Does it really matter if I cross the finish line? It does! Because, I’ve put in the time and effort, the hard-work, the good days, and the bad days. I run focused on my ultimate goal, knowing that I’ve been training in order to reach my full potential. Fulfilling my goal and purpose in running comes when I cross the finish line.
Question 4: Who should we watch while we run?
I’ve learned through experience, that when I run I must have tunnel vision. I must focus on my goal and my race. If I lose my focus and worry about what the other runners are doing, how they are going to run, how fast they are going to go, then I start to run a race that wasn’t intended for me. Also, if I start to concentrate on those around me, I become anxious and worried that I’m not as strong and I’m not going to be able to keep up, let alone finish the race. When I line up to start a race I have no business looking around to see who might be better, stronger or faster than I am. There is no need to compare myself with others before the race. And if I do, I can guarantee I will wander off of my plan, my pace and get stuck somewhere I shouldn’t be. This makes for a difficult and often times painful race. The best races are those that are run with complete focus on what my body has been trained to run and not waiver from this pace.
Then there’s the crowd and the cheering. While they can be encouraging, they can also be distracting. If I start to look around and see someone holding a box of donuts or drinking coffee from Starbucks, how much harder does that make it to keep going! Wouldn’t I rather stop and rest and indulge myself! Why would I suffer through the pain when I can find immediate self-satisfaction, if only I would stop. Again, my eyes must stay focused on the goal and the task at hand!
Lastly, when I race I know the ultimate goal is to cross the finish line. How do I reach the finish line? Most of the time it’s too overwhelming to think of the entire distance. I must take it step by step – because eventually steps turn into miles, and miles into 5ks, and 5ks into marathons and then before I know it I’m crossing the finish line – with exhilaration and joy, not because I did it pain-free, but because I did it! I finished the race!