I still remember the day my friend Lisa called and asked, “Will you sign up for Grandma’s Half Marathon with me?”
I had been a recreational runner for years, and always thought of trying a half. But when faced with the actual doing of it—that was a different story! Pretty scary to be honest.
But I agreed, we trained, we raced, finished and celebrated! And I ran two more half marathons in the next two years.
And you know what? I learned a LOT about life because of training for these long races.
Here are the biggies:
It’s Not about Running, it’s about Endurance.
This was the #1 lesson I learned. It’s about endurance.
In fact, I think the main reason God gave me this odd desire to run is to teach me endurance for every other area of my life!
Looking at 13.1 miles from the beginning was SO intimidating. But when we train, we don’t have to look at the full distance right away. We start at 3 miles, then we look at 4 miles, then 4.5, then 5. Pretty soon we’re running 8 and 10.
And—wonder of wonders—on race day we find we can run 13.1!
We need endurance in all areas of life at some time or another. It could be enduring sickness or pain. It could be enduring a job situation that’s hard. Or a relationship breakdown that’s taking a long time to heal.
One of the most famous scriptures about endurance is in James:
“…the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”James 1:3-4
The Lord is after endurance in me and you. It’s a key element in our walk with Him.
Long Runs are the Key to Building Endurance.
Before I saw the training schedule I assumed I’d have to run long distances all the time to get ready for the race.
I was surprised (and relieved) to learn the daily runs can be as little as 3 miles. It’s the weekly long runs that keep stretching the limits of our endurance.
As the long runs got longer, the daily runs stayed pretty consistent—between 3 and 5 miles. That was very doable for me. The thought of a long run just once a week wasn’t so intimidating.
Following a training schedule was super important for us. And so much better than us trying to guess how we’d manage to tackle this mountain in front of us.
When we’re “running with the Lord” in our faith journey with Him, He’s very gracious to train us, too. He sometimes gives us more than we think we can handle so we lean on Him fully.
When those hard seasons are long we’re building spiritual endurance. Not only for what we’re facing now, but for things we’ll face in the future.
Rest Days are Just as Important as Running Days.
The rest days built into the schedule are necessary for our body to recover, especially after the long runs. In fact, the rest days are the key to our body strengthening itself.
I could’ve skipped the rest days, thinking I’d lose ground. But I’d have been wrong…and risked greater injury in the meantime.
The rest days weren’t just good physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Knowing I’d get a break after each long run helped spur my motivation.
When God designated a weekly Sabbath Rest, He knew what He was doing. When we neglect it, we pay for it physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
He built cycles of rest into His world from the beginning as an example to us. When we honor Him by observing a weekly Sabbath, we’re also taking care of ourselves.
Know Your Own Pace.
I finished my first half marathon course in 2:27. Not 5 minutes later, the women’s first place finisher of the full marathon finished. She ran 24 miles at the same pace I ran 13! Seriously??!
If I would’ve compared myself with her for even a few seconds, that would’ve been the end of my running career!
But God has things for me to do at the pace I’m wired for. When I embrace that and don’t compare myself with others, I can celebrate both my own pace and everyone else’s.
This, too, can be applied to every area of life—work, school, hobbies, ministry. I’ve heard it said, “At the pace of His grace.”
I like that.
It’s Easier and More Motivating with Others.
I like running alone. During my training most of my daily runs were alone, usually in my own neighborhood.
But it was a treat to meet up with others for the long runs. Those were the hardest and the most important to keep on schedule.
There’s something special about rooting each other on, encouraging and supporting each other. When some of us are tackling the same challenges at the same time, we understand the difficulties.
Whether it’s running, parenting, marriage, work, ministry, difficult situations…Whatever it is, God’s designed us to be part of a community that sticks together.
Sundays are like our long runs—best together. That refreshes and keeps us motivated to keep up with the daily runs—our day-to-day life—on our own.
So I think the Lord had real purpose for me in this season of training for and running half marathons. So many life lessons.
What is He using in your life to teach you?
(All photos courtesy of Canva)