My wife and I got down and dirty. It was fun.
There were mud pits to crawl through, cargo nets to climb, walls to scale, push-ups to push, hills to run up and down, and lots of sandy grit that immediately fell into our shoes and ultimately worked its way into every nook and cranny of our beings.
My goal for the race was to have fun and keep a running pace for the entire course. Mission accomplished on both counts – although on the long uphill stretch that came in mile five I would say that my running pace was what the writer had in mind when coining the phrase “snail’s pace”.
Our race times were good. My wife finished about two minutes ahead of me and came in second out of thirty-six in her division, while I came in ninth out of thirty-seven in mine. Overall we ranked well within the top 20% of the 1202 runners who finished the race.
We didn’t just show up and run, of course. We work out, lift weights, run miles – all the things you’d expect for someone who signs up for one of these obstacle course races. Our ordinary routine paid off for an extraordinary day of fun.
Training Pays Off
Keri Wyatt Kent wrote last week of getting back into running and being ready for her first 15 k race.
A few years ago, a milestone birthday reminded me that my habit of giving up running for, oh, a year at a time, was not sustainable. If I was that wildly inconsistent, eventually I would not be able to run. I realized that I needed to run while I still could, so that I could keep running as I got, ahem, older. If I wanted to be running in my 70s, I couldn’t start then.
Why do I run? Today, it was sheer discipline. I ran so that when I show up for the race on Sunday, I’m able to finish. It is a preparation for things to come. But more than that, running reminds me that life’s difficulties need not define me. Facing challenges builds strength, not just in running but in life.
Her words remind me of Paul’s advice to Timothy.
Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8.)
But what does it mean to train yourself to be godly? I think it goes to the advice given by the writer of Hebrews.
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3.)
This is what that training regimen looks like:
- Loosen your grip on things that entangle you, whether sin or anything else that hinders.
- Focus on Jesus, not yourself or your sins.
- Keep your mind on him, finding that in considering all he has done for us we can take heart and not grow weary.
This is the training that pays off, then: our relationship with Jesus who is the “perfecter of our faith”. After all, there’s no one better trained than the person whose faith Jesus has already made perfect.