Wednesday, May 14, 2008

7 Things I Learned Training to Run 13.1 Miles

As Kathy and I complete nearly six months of training for the Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon in Fredericksburng, Virginia, which culminates in the race on Sunday May 18, I have been reflecting on a few lessons gained during this enjoyable, challenging, arduous, elevating, frustrating and wonderful process.

1. Pick a race – Way back in September I saw this race advertised in Runner’s World magazine. I had served as a Summer missionary after my sophomore year in college in Fredericksburg and had always desired to return for a visit. Being that I also wanted to do a half-marathon, the combination was perfect.

2. Have a realistic training plan – After declaring my intentions to run this race, my bride purchased for me Jeff Galloway's book, Half-Marathon: You Can Do It. In it, I found a fantastic plan for me, a first time half-marathoner. Since he had trained thousands of runners to do this distance and was himself an Olympian, I figured his advice could be trusted. With Galloway's plan, I could run three days a week and get ready for the distance I desired to cover.

3. Make time to work the plan – It is nice to have the wonderful “idea” of running a race, but if it is going to happen, the training must happen and you must plan for it. Other things and people will attempt to nudge out the training plan. Over the past few months, my times for running have had to become non-negotiable and on the calendar.

4. Some days are hard – During the week, I take two thirty minute run/walks. I do a system of running three minutes and walking one minute. For whatever reason, there are days that are very hard. The shoes don’t feel right. The weather is rainy. The kids are mad. The wind is in my face. However, it has become the hard runs that I have come to appreciate. When you have been forced to struggle through, you are stronger and better for having done it.

5. Some days are easy – Over the past months, there have been days that were an absolute breeze. My shoes fit perfectly. The wind was at my back. The time seemed to fly. These days are no less appreciated. In fact, after a run that was relatively easy, I am glad for such blessings.

6. Be flexible – Because of life, some training runs need to be shifted. I generally run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Because of my schedule, there were times that a run needed to happen on Monday. Occasionally, I only got in one of my two weekly training runs. I have even discovered the need for flexibility during a run. In fact, just today as I was completing a one minute walk and beginning to run again, I saw a strange dog. Not knowing how he would react, I continued to walk for about another ninety seconds to get past him. Then the run continued. During the Cherry Blossom Festival 15K last month, Kathy and I were told there were five water stops. How many? There was really only four. In the end, these past months have taught me to just relax, breathe and run.

7. A training partner and a support team are wonderful – I thoroughly enjoyed running twelve miles with my bride last Saturday. Her presence encouraged me and her advice has proved helpful knowing that she is s two-time half-marathoner herself. When I may feel like stopping, she has given the words of encouragement over the months that proved to be exactly what I needed. Also, as we ran last Saturday, Jane White graciously agreed to watch our kids for us. She and many others have made it possible for us to complete this task. Truly, no man is an island.

The best thing about these lessons learned, is that I believe that they are also helpful principles for studying God’s Word. In a few weeks, we will begin a new Adult Discipleship Study on I John. The Bible is essential in helping us know God and walk closely with Him and function as His church. So give some thought about how the seven principles I learned from training for a half-marathon might be helpful in thinking about your approach to the study and meditation of Scripture.

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