I’ve started running the last few years. Actually, I run for about 6 months and then take the next 6 months off. It isn’t intentional. Running is just hard and as spring turns into summer it gets so hot that I lose my motivation for it. Then we get into fall and winter. Why start again if it is just going to get to cold too venture outside?
This year has been different. In June I joined a women’s running group and this kept me motivated. To add to that, I decided to sign up for a half marathon — 13.1 miles. I played with the idea in the winter and spring — rationalizing that it would give me something to seriously train for. But I also knew that the farthest I had run was the annual Lake Run — 4.37 miles. In July, I ran our local 5 mile race and was so discouraged.
But, I had floated the half marathon idea by a friend in Ohio. We continued to email about it. In August, I took the plunge and sent in my race fees.
The Indy Half & Full on Oct. 15, 2011 dawned clear and so cool it was cold to those of us in running gear. Cassie had run three other half marathons. I knew she ran faster than I did. Honestly, I expected I would run alone — just me and my music. Cassie had other ideas. She planned to let me set the pace and to stay with me.
We started fast but slowed on the hills that seemed like mountains. Having trained in flat Illinois, I wasn’t prepared. Every time I slowed, I apologized. Cassie would tell me how well I was doing and when it got tough we talked to keep our minds off the fact that we really just wanted to sit down. AT 7.5 miles we came across a sign — “Steep Grade Ahead. Use Extreme Caution.” If I had been alone, I might have cried. Instead Cassie snapped a picture. Around mile 9 there was actually a bench that should have been labeled TEMPTATION.
The Bible is clear that traveling — doing life — with someone else is more than a good idea — it is necessary for all the reasons that I found running with the women’s group and running with Cassie. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says,
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
We need people who can encourage us when we falter and who can help us up when we fall. We need people to keep us warm and to defend us.
But not only do we need that from others, we need to be those things for others. We need to encourage and defend and warn. Again it was running related, but earlier in the summer I had the chance to go and cheer on a couple running buddies. For one it was her first 5K. They were surprised when I showed up. I took pictures and shouted encouragement and even picked up a ribbon to commemorate that first race. We need to be the picture takers and cheerleaders of people of faith.
When have you wanted to quit because something seemed too hard?
Did you have someone to encourage you?
Not all of us have those people and it has been a struggle for me to develop those relationships, but if you don’t how have you managed? How did you feel Jesus help you to your feet?
Who can help up and encourage?
There is a running quote I heard. I don’t know who said it, but it has stuck with me. “If you want to run faster, run alone. If you want to run farther, run with others.”
The Christian life is a marathon — not a sprint.