First, WE CAN DO HARD THINGS! I am not a runner. It has always been a challenge for me. In fact, I really believed I could not do it at all. I have used all the excuses to avoid embracing this kind of challenge: I get short winded, I have bad knees, I do not have the endurance to run a long distance, and I can only sprint for a brief time. So why the change of heart now? This is a challenge I took upon myself as the result of participating in the Freedom Run/Walk fundraiser event for the Atlantic Hope Women’s Center last summer.
That event was such an emotional experience for me. As I was walking, I felt prompted to try and run short sprints and pace myself with longer walking segments in between. All I could think about were the ladies who are running a race for their lives and how the challenges they face are monumental compared to my challenge of running. So, I began to run. I wanted to place myself in an uncomfortable space to try and relate to the physical pain women encounter when they are trying to overcome addictions. It pales in comparison, I know, but it caused me to consider their plight more deeply and it was worth embracing. So, as I pressed into that uncomfortable space, I felt burdened for women with addictions and prayed for them as I ran.
Fast forward to 2022. I have registered for the Freedom Run/Walk again. But this year I intend to run, not walk, the race and have begun the training process to move me towards that goal. Will it be easy, no. Am I afraid of failing, yes. But I am willing to try and learning so much in this process. Life is like a running race. Here are key parallels that have come to my attention on the training trail as I have listened to the coaching from the Revelation Wellness Couch to 5k program:
1. We must walk before we can run. Sometimes in life we are so anxious to get moving that we forget to take the important small steps first. It is a progression, and we cannot fast forward to the finish line of a race without doing the smaller steps leading up to it.
2. Lace up your shoes. We must be ready for the task ahead. We need a good supportive shoe. We too must be prepared for the race of life. The bible says, For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Gospel News so that you will be fully prepared.” (Ephesians 6:15) We can carry the peace of God wherever we go in everything we do. Peace is having a firm footing and that is so assuring. Now that is a good supportive shoe!!
3. Wear the right clothing. Light, moisture wicking clothing is necessary. A hat will also protect from the sun. Under Armour is a popular brand among runners. This reminds me of another special armour that we can wear to prepare for the battles of life. “ Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-15) With God’s armour we are prepared for whatever hardship or battle we must fight.
4. Lift your head up. When you run it is best to lift your gaze so that you are looking into the horizon. Your focus ought to be straight in front of you, not to the left or right, not down, not up, and not behind. Fix your eyes forward. Isn’t the same true of our lives? Proverbs teaches us, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
5. Train your mind. What you look for you will find. If you expect to be afraid, exhausted, and scared that is exactly what you will run into. Ouch! Big lesson here!! A proverb explains this well, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
6. Do not drop your shoulders. When we tire, we tend to round our shoulders and our head may hang down. Do not succumb to this. It is the posture of shame. Instead, lift your shoulders up and back to open your heart and breathing space. This will assist you to persist through fatigue. Does life ever fatigue you? Lift your shoulders, stand tall, open your heart. “Stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
7. Do not over-extend your stride. Small, short, light steps are better. This will reduce fatigue and protect the joints from hard impact. Do not overextend yourself in life either. Know when to hold back. Protect yourself from burnout. One sure way to accomplish this is to stay in step with the Spirit. "Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires ofthe flesh." Galations 5:16
8. Stay in the moment. Do not get ahead of yourself. Be present and enjoy each step of the race. Sound familiar? Sometimes we can be so concerned about obtaining a goal that we lose the experience and lesson of the moment. “Be Still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). Trust God. Every. Single. Moment.
9. Find your breath. Proper breathing is pivotal in physical training. When your breathing is “off” you cannot perform efficiently, and you exhaust yourself quickly. Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Oxygen is key! You know you are breathing well if you can expand your heart. I see two lessons here. One, God is the giver of life. He breathed life into us when He created us. “The Spirit of God has made us, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4) If we are to live efficiently, we need to continue inhaling His breath, which is a symbol of the life of the Holy Spirit available to us for our daily living. “He breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John20:22) Find His breath. Then He will expand our hearts and we will be able to live more fully in freedom as we move forward in His love for us and in our love towards others.
10. Keep a strong core. Your core refers to those muscles that wrap your midsection to hold you together and to keep you connected with your upper and lower body. It is your powerhouse of strength. When you gird your self up, connecting those muscles, they will support your whole body and help absorb shock from the impact on your feet and knees. When we wear the “belt of truth” as mentioned earlier in the armour God provides, it centers our whole being and protects us from the harmful shocks of deception and lies that can bring ruin. It girds our life! It keeps us upright and strong!
11. Move with purpose. Our bodies crave movement. Running is a propelling forward movement. It is a leaning into while staying upright. What do you need to press into? Move with purpose in your life. We are not meant to be stagnant, stuck in one place. We must move forward. Always gaining ground and growing. “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.” (Phil.3:13,14)
12. Drink water. As we run, we lose water through the process of sweating, and we need to replenish that water. Water is life giving! And the best water of all? Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
13. Finish Strong. What a wonderful reward awaits us at the finish line. When we avail of our training, we can finish strong! Then we will be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I nave kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Even when we get to the end of our lives, we can still have the stamina to finish strong. When we integrate your faith into every aspect of our lives it will invigorate our whole life and being!
So run your race. As you do, lift the corners of your mouth. SMILE! And do not forget to BREATHE!! You will find me on the racing trail June 18th and with God’s help I will finish strong, smiling.
Reach out to me if you would like to donate to the fundraising efforts of the Atlantic Hope Center for Women located in St. John’s. It offers treatment for women with addictions, and I am so grateful for their program which addresses such a crucial need in our province. You can learn more here: