“Among ancient Greeks the runner who won the race was not the man who crossed the line in the shortest time, but the man who crossed it in the least time with his torch still burning. We are so often so busy with life’s activities that we are in danger of allowing the torch of our spiritual life to become extinguished.” –Dr. William Culbertson
Wake up 7am: Morning workout mileage. Leave apartment, return 30 seconds later once you realize it’s snowing. Get more layers. Post workout, drive back home. Grab a granola bar and change for class. Quiz at 9:20. 9:25- realize you have to add about five more things to your sticky note “To do list”. Realize you forgot to lock your apartment door- again. Drive back home- get some actual breakfast, start some laundry, and sit down to finally open your Bible.
11:02- it’s a Psalms kind of day, you can already tell. Phone keeps buzzing, the To-Do list is slowly racking up more items in your brain by the second, and your mind is going a mile a minute. Thinking about your day ahead. . .
“…Class again at 2. Going to miss beginning of practice, so I have to get in mileage before class. Look up my mileage and training schedule for the week. Set an appointment to get on the underwater treadmill. Get some homework done. Lunch. Race to the indoor track after two hour lecture class. Lifting with the team, supplementary circuit, prehab, ice bath, and FINALLY dinner! That’s if everything goes as planned……WAIT! I forgot about homework. When am I going to have time to finish that paper or my anatomy lab due tomorrow? Could be a another late night.”
11:22- You snap out of it, look back down at your Bible, and you’re only on verse 9. Refocusing yourself. You dive back in to verse 10. Slightly less distracted, you read “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted among the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:10-11.
Sigh of relief. “Why was I stressed again?”
But slowly throughout the day, little by little, the stress piles up, the worries fill your head, and you start to lose sight of this simple promising truth. Before you know it, you get so busy trying to “do more” and “be better” you haven’t picked up your bible in a few days, weeks, or maybe even months. Your times might have gone down or they might be exactly the same, and from the outside everything looks better than ever. But on the inside you’re empty or running on low. All it takes is one blow and you’re flat on your face wondering how you let things get so far.
Thing is, is you can never be prepared for that car accident you’re going to get into on the way to pick your friend up for morning practice or that shin splint, leg cramp, pop quiz in exercise physiology, or hidden root on your trail run that leaves your ankle blue for a week and out of competition. It’s bound to happen because we are bound to make a mistake(s) At some point we all fall or fall short of our goal and that is OKAY!
But sometimes, especially us girls, we get caught up in the motions, the hurry, the training, the schedules, the times, and the To-Do lists that we finally lift our heads up and catch our breathe only to realize that the day is over, a new one starts again in the morning, and I still have so much left to do.
More often than not, the reflexive response is, “I need to do more. I need to do better. I can handle this.”
After a while this sort of attitude and perspective left me feeling pretty drained, unmotivated, and confused. I found myself asking the question “Why do I do all this?” over and over again. This kind of thought only lead to plateauing times, a less positive personality, and unhealthy lifestyle.
I needed a break. Coaches thought so too.
During some time off. God got ahold of my heart and pulled me closer to him as I tried to rediscover why I run in the first place and figure out when running, specifically running well, became my top priority in life. In my search, I discovered that I was not alone. While God was working in me to draw me closer to Him and fight off the feeling of never quite being satisfied, He brought people into my life to help guide my search. Professional athletes and Collegiate alumni like Heather (Sagan) Zealand, Michelle Kauffman, and Amanda Winslow-Rego are some of these people. Having had their fair share of trials, unique experiences, and accomplishments in the world of competitive running, they have a lot of extraordinary wisdom to give and share about what they have learned. They’ve shared their stories with me and I am going to share them with you because I hope they can impact your life as much as they did mine.
Maybe you need to rekindle your fire for the love of running and passion for competing. Maybe you’re on a break due to a recent injury. Maybe you’re just starting to come back. Maybe you have a friend who is struggling and you don’t know what you can do to help. Maybe your fire is as bright as ever but you want to be prepared for what the future might hold or be encouraged by how evidently God can work in the lives of those who seek to put him first. However you are feeling, start by knowing this.
You are More Than a Runner.
Being a competitive runner now for 6 years, I have learned the only identity that is strong enough to lean on in times of trouble, stress, or crisis is Jesus Christ our Savior. Yea, we run- probably pretty fast, probably more than you walk, and probably since before we can remember. But you can not out run the obstacles that get thrown in your way. You can only be ready for them in theory and lean on the only one who can out run them. The only one who runs the world. Our God. All He asks of us is that we recognize our struggles, recognize that we cannot overcome them on our own and look to Him with faith and confidence for the solution.
Remember John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” and Isaiah 65:24 “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
And like Dr. William Culbertson pointed out, What is the point of being the fastest, the most talented, most decorated, or the best runner if you’re left with no fire at the end? Without a light or fire you can’t see medals, trophies, or awards displayed on your wall and neither can anyone else. All you’ll see is darkness and you won’t have any way to light your path to see where to go from there. We need to keep our fire bright so others will see the passion burning within us; THAT is how we can motivate others, especially our teammates, and be a light for Christ. From there, God will light the way for our next step, next race, next season, next move. This blog will be filled with written testimonies to show how other collegiate and professional runners rekindled their fire when it went out or got dim, and then how they kept their fire burning bright throughout their running career.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10