I guess I spoke too soon when I said that I hadn’t missed a training run. Because now I have.
It started off with shaving a mile off two of my mid-week runs last week. And then last night, I totally blew off both my run and the cross-training I was going to do in lieu of my run. But it was for a good reason – we got new couches! Our friends sold their house to travel the country as a traveling nurse (the wife) in an RV so they gave us their couches. The evening was spent rearranging furniture. I’ll post pics soon. We like the new setup a lot (and are praying that the dogs don’t destroy the couches like they did last time).
Anyway, here’s last week’s training rundown:
Monday: 3.04 mile easy run (35:56; 11:49/mile); 45 minutes easy yoga
This was supposed to be a 4 mile run.
Tuesday: 8 mile run w/5 x 800 (1:37:45; 10:51/mile)
800s: 5:04, 5:08, 4:54, 4:40, 4:34. The first couple of 800s were done at a comfortably fast pace. The last couple, I was really pushing it. The rest of the run was at an 11 min pace.
Thursday: 2.5 mile easy run (31:15; 12:18/mile)
This was supposed to be a 4 mile run.
Friday: 16 mile long run (3:14:18; 12:08/mile)
Sunday: 45 minute walk with pooches
This training week really tested my mental resolve to run a marathon. This was the first week when I actually doubted my ability to do this. That run on Friday, and specifically Mile 2, really freaked me out. “What if I can’t run this marathon? Maybe my body just can’t handle this. What if I’m tired for the rest of my training plan? What if my legs feel like this until the race?”
Obviously, I’m not giving up and I’m taking practical action to get my legs rested up. But I’ve felt God challenging me.
It started the Saturday I ran 15 miles – when I stopped at the gas station between my warmup and the half marathon course, the gas station guy asked me, “Do you run happy?” At first, I was really confused. Then I realized I was wearing my Brooks running shirt that said Run Happy. I laughed a bit, said “Yeah I do,” and left.
But his comment stuck with me. On my warmup, I had been thinking about how tired my legs felt and how I didn’t know if I could run 13 more miles. “I don’t know if I can do this.” That phrase sounded like something I’ve said about the Christian life. “I don’t know if I can do this.” I’ve discovered that the remedy to that is to depend on God – because guess what? I’m not expected to be able to do it. God wants me to admit my need and look to Him for strength and sufficiency, not within myself. Why would running be any different?
And that’s where I get hung up. For some reason, I have a really hard time believing that God cares about running. It’s the same way I had felt about my eating habits – my struggle seemed so trivial, so vain. Why would God want to be involved? How could I ask His blessing and help with something that is clearly my own undertaking or doing?
I often think about the quote from Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Well, God didn’t make me fast but He did give me a love for endurance sports. When running doesn’t suck, I really do love it. So why wouldn’t God care about it?
It’s my own mental block so I won’t go any further into my own struggle. I believe that the truth (whether I can truly buy it or not) is that God cares about everything we care about. There’s nothing too trivial or menial or vain to Him. And He wants to be involved in every single aspect of our lives, whether that is running or reading or cleaning our house or working at our job. Especially when it’s something that I spend so much time doing, thinking about and writing about. I want to involve God in my running, despite all of my objections about why He shouldn’t want to or why it’s “not worthy” of being prayed for.
So I’m praying for it. I’m acting in light of what I objectively know to be truth, regardless of how I feel subjectively. I see that training for a marathon can be an opportunity for my faith to grow. Instead of entertaining “What if’s?” about my ability and race conditions, I can run to God in faith. Faith that He will sustain me to race day. Faith that no matter what happens, God is ultimately the one in charge and is actively working everything together for my good. Faith to remember that running doesn’t define me – it’s something I do but it’s not who I am.
I’m also praying for the grace to be thankful. That’s what was so convicting about the gas station guy’s comment – Do I run happy? Well, actually, no I don’t. Most of the time when I’m out running, I’m complaining and whining (to myself) about this ache and that twinge, my slow pace, the bug swarms, the d@mn traffic, the stupid gits in my way, etc. etc.
There’s a verse in 1 Timothy that reads:
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5 ESV)
Thanksgiving is the key to receiving things in faith. So my desire above all, more than a fast pace or race goals or a perfect training plan, is that my running – and life – would reflect how grateful and thankful I am to God for His provision. It’s His blessing that I have the time, energy, resources and desire to be out there, pushing my physical body to its limits. It’s His blessing that I haven’t gotten injured or sick. His blessing that I get to run my first marathon in Alaska, of all places.
Circumstances don’t create joy or rob us of it. It’s our perspective that does.