On Monday I ran for the first time with a different group. Well, a group with a couple of different people anyway. We did 6 miles at a significantly slower pace than our Tuesday/Thursday groups on a hot and muggy day. I actually had to be at work early so had to leave them after the first 3 miles. Still, it was a nice change and especially nice to be able to slow down a little in this oppressive heat and humidity.
Tuesday brought another tough 6 mile run. I've started falling back on these runs and finish behind the rest of the group in this weather. That's okay though, still making the distance and finished this run in right at a 10 minute pace.
I joined the same group from Monday for Wednesday's run and we made 6 miles again. This time we averaged a 12:17 pace per mile. I intentionally planned to get out and run early so I would be able to take it easy at cross country practice. Wednesday is speed work day for the kids and this old, fat man can't keep up. I ran a mile warm up with the team, then stopped and timed them as they ran 400 meter repeats, then I ran a one mile tempo run with them to finish. Altogether, I finished Wednesday with 8 miles running.
Thursday brought me back to my regular biweekly group to run with. We did our normal Thursday 6-mile route that includes about 2.5 miles on a golf course. The pace is a little slower on Thursdays and I finished with a 10:35 pace. Still plenty of heat and humidity.
I made it 6 more miles on Friday with the cross country team. The route was actually 5 miles, but I did quite a bit of doubling back to encourage the slower kids. This has proved to be a good role for me in helping with the team, because I certainly can't keep up with the faster runners. One added advantage to taking on this task is the opportunity to see the vast improvement in these kids who struggle to make the miles. These same kids could barely run when we started this summer. Now they're running farther and faster, surprising even themselves with their performance.
On Saturday I went for broke. After weeks of running no more than 10 miles, I decided to bite off a little more on our weekend group run. We started at 5 AM and made a 5 mile loop to get started. The heat and humidity were bad, but I still felt okay. After downing quite a bit of Gatorade and hitting a Clif gel, I pulled a 20 ounce bottle of ice cold water from the chest and headed out with the 6 AM group. Some of my friends still had 15 to go and I decided to do as much of it as I could with them. We set out on an 8 mile loop and made it to mile 5 when another friend met us with an ice chest filled with cold bottled water. By then the heat and humidity was taking its toll and I decided to walk the 3 miles back to the car. Once it was said and done, I'd made 13.22 miles in just under 3 hours. In this weather, I was glad to get it.
Training Week: July 23 - July 29
I'm really pleased to see many friends, relatives, and others taking up running lately. Many have contacted me to let me know they've recently started. Some keep me informed when they reach their goals, and others ask me for advice on how to start.
Often, these new runners seem intimidated because they can't make it 3 or more miles when they first begin. When I decided to start running again 4 years ago, I couldn't run a half mile without stopping. My goal at the time was to make it 3 miles.
But it took me a long time to get to where I could run that 3 miles without stopping. When your goal is so far from your ability, it's easy to get a defeatist attitude. In fact, that's the easiest time to give up, when what you hope to accomplish seems impossible.
And to most people, it becomes impossible because they let that daunting task discourage them. They give up without ever getting close.
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" -- Matthew 19:26
But if you can remember this verse, when Jesus said that nothing is impossible with God, you can persevere. Notice, it doesn't say everything's easy with God. Getting from a half mile to three miles to six miles to ten to 13 to 26 and beyond is never going to be easy. Not for most of us. But neither is it impossible...if you trust Jesus.
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." -- Colossians 3:17
I believe this part's important also. Turn your running over to God, do it for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ, and give thanks for every step, every breath, every mile.
When I started running again, I ignored this part. I was running for me and my own vanity. I didn't pray about it. I didn't look for my running to benefit anyone but myself. Plain and simple.
It wasn't long though, before I began to feel a pull, hear a voice, a voice that was telling me I needed to run for a higher purpose. It was the voice of God telling me that if I was going to run, it needed to be for Him and His glory.
I ignored it at first. Or tried to. I thought it was my imagination, and besides, I had no idea how to honor Him through my running. But the voice persisted.
After a long period with little improvement in my running and a couple of injuries not long before big races, I realized God wouldn't be ignored. He was speaking to me and I needed to listen.
I realized it wasn't about me and I couldn't keep running without His blessing.
"But he [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." -- 2 Corinthians 12:9
Since I truly turned my running over to Him, I've seen improvement that I couldn't imagine earlier. I've run faster and farther than ever seemed possible before. My weakness was His launch pad to use me.
The marathons, the PRs, the training successes, none of them are a result of my efforts, but His grace and mercy. So if you want to run, the best piece of advice I can offer is to do it for the Lord.
It won't make it easy, but He can accomplish great things through you if you let Him.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.