I used to run cross-country in high school. I wasn’t very good, but there weren’t many sports options for a girl with no hand/eye coordination. And since I went to a high school with about 300 students our sports selection was limited as well. So I was a cheerleader (woohoo) and ran.
Oh the stories I can tell of running track and cross-country. The funny thing about most of my stories is they involve “cheating” of some sort. Thankfully Jesus saw me as a work in progress when it came to my leadership skills, because I certainly led a few astray when it came to running.
Like the days during pre-season training when we were really out of shape and the coaches sent us out on a long “there and back” run and we stuffed money in our shoes and stopped at the local “small-town” gas station for a candy bar and mountain dew. Seriously, who were we kidding. Not only were we not running but we were eating 800 calories to boot.
Or the time we were running on those old country roads in October and it occurred to me that we should take a short-cut across the corn-field since the corn stalks had recently been cut down. It seemed like such a sensible “cheating” option. So off we went across the field. It never occurred to us that it rains a lot in the Fall, or that we might find mud in the middle of the field, or maybe even a small lake. Or that the field was extremely uneven and we were practically falling down as we tried to cross it. No, none of that occurred to a group of sophomore and junior girls. And if anyone knows how Michigan is laid out, our roads run in squares in the country. They are usually one mile blocks. So this meant, it was one mile across that dang field.
So when we got back, we tried to act like everything was really cool, but we were covered from head to toe in mud. I think we probably looked like we had been rolling in it. And I’m pretty sure we were way more tired than if we had run the entire training route. (I’m thinking this may be why I was not team “captain” that year as well.)
And we were totally busted. Our coach had gone out looking for us and didn’t find us, which isn’t very cool when it’s a pack of 5-6 girls we’re talking about. Needless to say, we ran extra the next day….and the next, and the next. (Not only that but we had to face our mother’s and explain the mud. I’m not sure which was worse!)
Last summer I started running again after an almost 10 year hiatus. I keep waiting for it to get easier, but it doesn’t. My mind tries to convince my body I should stop and walk. Lately I’ve been running 3-4 miles every day so that 3-4 miles won’t seem so difficult, but I’m beginning to think I’ll never get there, which is a real bummer because I really want to run a half-marathon in October. Somehow I need to go from 3 miles to 13, and I feel like I can barely get to 4.
Discipline is tough. I remember a few years back telling a friend something to the effect that everyone has different spiritual gifts, so aren’t some of us better at some disciplines than others. She nailed me on that one….and rightly so. She said “Jen, if it was easy it wouldn’t be called DISCIPLINE!” And she was absolutely right.
Hebrews 12:1-2 talks a little about running and discipline:
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
I don’t know what discipline you struggle with. Maybe it’s an addiction. Maybe it’s taking care of your body and finding value in how God made you. Maybe it’s really taking time to decide what you believe and why? Discipline is never easy. Even if I do get to running 13 miles, I’m sure there are days when 3 miles will feel like 500 and some days it won’t be so bad.
But get on with it. Quit carrying around the baggage, make the choice and go for it.
And the great thing is, every morning is new. God’s not keeping track and neither should you. If you’ve set a goal and you get off track, start again. And again, and again.
Cheating never felt good. I either felt guilty, or I would totally “bonk” during the race.
But what really did feel good was crossing the finish line strong, knowing that I had not only run the best race possible for me, but I had trained the best I could for that race.
I like finishing a race with no regrets.
How about you?
(Here’s a great song about “starting over” from Addison Road. This is your last day to make a comment on my blog. I’ll be announcing the winners tomorrow!)