Thursday, March 15, 2012

Run a Better Race

I did a sprint workout with Tess today, and it reminded me of why I choose LSD when I run—that’s Long Slow Distance for all of you thinking I have really fallen off the wagon. If you are struggling with pride lately or just feeling slightly uppity, go sprint around a cinder track with your fleet-footed 18 year old daughter.  And unless your name is Usain Bolt or Carmelita Jeter, you will feel lead-footed and foolish.

Sprinting is not something most of us do on a regular basis.  I actually had to visualize something evil chasing me to get my legs to move faster.  And every time we did another 150 meter sprint, Tess kept getting farther and farther ahead of me—even though we always started at the same time.  I literally ate her dust—or cinder in this case—because I followed her on the very inside lane, rather than running beside her, wanting to run the least distance possible.  And for our final 300 meter sprint, Tess said, “We only have to run this one at about 75%.”  And all I could think was, “Yeah, your 75% is exactly the same as my 150%.  Let’s go.”  So, in her gazelle-like fashion, she flew by me again and I didn’t even try to finish strong like I always tell my kids to do.  It was at this point that I was keenly aware of my legs and my abs and my age and Tess cheerfully exclaimed, “Aren’t you glad we did the easy workout?”

As I’ve posted before, we like what we’re used to…and I am used to running long slow distance.  Running sprints with my daughter was not what I was accustomed to or comfortable with.  It put me waaaaaay outside of my cozy zone.  And when I was doing it, I was hyper-aware of how awkward I looked and how awful I felt.  Just because I experienced these things, though, doesn’t necessarily mean I shouldn’t pursue sprinting (though I don’t think I could be ready for the 2012 Olympic games in London); it means that sprinting has become an unnatural activity for me because I haven’t practiced it lately.  It doesn’t mean it couldn’t become natural for me.

Isn’t it the same with our lives?  We get really comfortable with the way we operate.  Our daily routines become predictable and familiar.  Then, when we decide to change—to lose some weight, to eat more vegetables, to pay off our debt, to memorize scripture, to read more good books, to stop drinking that poison Diet Coke (that one is for me)--we have to fight against ourselves to get these new habits to form.  Why?  Because we like what we’re used to and these new things are unfamiliar and hard for us. They take us into foreign territory where things look different.  We are keenly aware of all the newness--and sometimes we just get so tired of this uncomfortable “sprinting” that we just stop and walk back to normality, neutrality, and mediocrity.  We go back to our old story and our old ways; the old story’s easier. Change is too difficult, unnatural.  It’s too hard to run a new race.

Is that where you want to be?  Me either.  Here’s the challenge:  Be that person that you’ve always wanted to be by changing your mind.  Begin to change your mind by acting on your dreams.  Begin to act on your dreams by getting out of your comfort zone--even if it’s awkward at first--even if you’re really slow.  Work hard to train your brain and your body toward excellence.  And remember that “natural” is not always necessarily right or good—sometimes it’s just plain lazy.  You are capable of much more than you think.  This is your life—live it abundantly!

And I’ll try to do a little less LSD and a little more sprinting—even when it hurts my legs…and my pride.

I want to run a better race.  Don’t you?


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,  always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:15-21

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