About two months ago I was able to take part in the Marine Core Marathon in Washington DC which was an awesome experience but also showed I wasn’t quite ready for this kind of competition since my body locked up towards the end. This led me to run a half-marathon last Saturday and make some pretty big changes in my training leading up to it. The biggest change actually had nothing to do with diet, exercise, equipment, or motivation; instead it was a determination to run my race.
One of my main mistakes in the marathon was pushing too hard at the beginning so towards the end my energy was spent. This was something I didn’t want to do but it’s hard to keep going at your own pace when people are passing by on both sides, so eventually my body left the “just run your race” philosophy behind and I paid dearly for it.
Last Saturday felt like deja vu as shortly after starting people starting flying by me as if I was standing still and my legs instinctively started running faster. Thankfully remembering the marathon experience I told myself for the first of many times “just run your race.” Running our own race doesn’t refer to being lazy but instead involves focusing on consistency or finishing strong instead of starting too strong and not being able to finish. So I kept myself to the right in the slow lane of traffic as people passed and conserved my energy for the end.
Finally we reached the mile thirteen marker, which meant there was only .2 miles left in the race, and it was in that moment I allowed my body to sprint towards the finish line. Yes being passed by what felt like 500 people is a bit embarrassing but I can also tell you that running with all your might to the finish line while people are cheering you on is an amazing experience (editors note: they weren’t actually cheering for me, didn’t hear anyone say go short bald guy).
Life in a way is like that race, there are moments when others leave us in the dust and we are tempted to give up on God’s plan because it’s too slow or painful. However most of those who push ahead end up burning themselves out quickly and in many cases the faithful will pass them on the way to finish line. But even if we don’t experience fame or glory it doesn’t matter because in the eyes of God the most important thing is being able to fight the good fight and finish the race that is set before us (II Timothy 4:7). The only way to do this is like the Apostle Paul forget everything else but completing the work God has for our lives (Philippians 3:14).
Ask any well-trained runner what the most important part of training is and they will say it’s developing a kicker. That’s the technical name for a last burst of energy or sprint that they leave for the final half mile of a race or when the finish line is in sight. Though it doesn’t always seem that way strong runners will always leave a part of themselves back (never go full force) till the end. In a way this is a lesson for us in our daily races, it isn’t whether or not you need to sprint, but when you do it that’s truly important.