So I decided to run the Virginia Ten Miler this year, a race I have followed since I was a teen. A race with a tradition that runs right through the heart of the original running boom. With victors like Rodgers, Shorter, Sinclair, Shea (both of them), Dixon, Gareau, the list goes on and on, and how have I not run it yet?!
Time to check it off the old bucket list.
But I’m preparing for a marathon. So how do I run this famously hilly course as a training race without losing focus on my marathon, which is a priority.
I needed a plan.
Element 1: establish a cruising speed at which I can run most of the race. Element 2: put my head down and get up all the hills without regard for my pace. Element 3: Run the famous 1.5 mile ending hill without stopping. Element 4: Run in the 90-minutes range.
I did all of these things, above and beyond. I cruised 9-ish minute miles, ground my way up every hill, and passed 40 people on the way up the famous “Farm Basket” hill, to finish in 98 minutes.
But here’s the point. Why was I so successful at this plan? It was supported by some elements that are important in the life of a Christian, a Christian with goals of serving Christ and knowing Him better.
The first is research. I studied the course, I knew about the hills, I read everything I could about this race and course. I knew what I was dealing with.
Next is preparation. I practiced what my research told me I needed to do. I ran hills. I looked for hills. I devoured hills. If two routes faced me and one had hills, I took that one. I practiced what I knew I was going to have to do.
Finally, I executed my plan. I did what I had practiced, what I knew worked. I didn’t make any race day changes.
And it all worked, to a “T.”
But, of course, most of you don’t care about my race. And that’s not really what this blog is about, anyway.
Research. How can we possibly know what being a Christian is about, or know about the mythical “God’s will” if we never research the very book He gave us to tell us these things. We plead so much ignorance of these things, like they’re insurmountable, hidden mysteries, when in fact, we’ve just not done the work of listening to Him. We’re lazy. We’ve not done the research. Our blindness to God’s will in our lives is usually proportional to our level of Biblical ignorance.
Preparation. The thing you want to do, you practice. The ability you want to have, to repeat over and over. You want to be patient, faithful, loving, compassionate? Then practice these things. The opportunities are there. Look for them.
This dialogue from “Evan Almighty” speaks to this point:
God: Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something. If one prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If one prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other?
Practice makes permanent, whether it’s a physical skill, attitude, or compassion.
Execution. You HAVE to practice what you want to execute, and you HAVE to execute what you’ve practiced. You can be as prepared as you want, but if you never get in the game (or the race) you never see the fruit of all that work.
It seems that the number one hinderance to Christians getting involved in people’s lives, whether witnessing, counseling, or just being friendly, is confidence. I was confident in my ability to attack that last hill, because I had done it over and over and over. I practiced what I wanted to execute, and I executed what I had practiced.
If there was ever a time when the world needed to see Christian love, compassion, unity, discernment, and calm, it is now.
Let’s research. Let’s practice. Let’s execute.