I recently completed my first week of training to run my first 5K. My new friend Lyrica Harris is a runner… she absolutely loves it. We recently found ourselves with an opportunity to offer encouragement to one another regarding our respective passions. She would coach me in running, and I would encourage her writing and blogging.
I was excited when she sent me a personalized training plan. At the same time, I realized it was going to stretch me beyond my comfort zone. It would require a level of mental toughness I'd previously avoided or danced around, particularly in the area of running. The real irony is I spend my day helping others understand mental toughness and the need to move away from comfort zones to foster learning. So armed with a personalized plan and a willingness to be stretched, I moved forward because she had given me two weeks to prepare for the first outing. It gave me time to wrap my mind around what would be required of me. As the day approached, two phenomena began to occur simultaneously:
The weather became unusually cold (we even experienced a rare snow day).
I began to ask myself who made the 5k such a big deal anyway!
A sort of panic began to set in. You wouldn't have seen it on the outside--I appeared cool, calm, and collected. Inside, however, my mind was racing. I had already paid my registration to run the Palmetto 5k, and Lyrica had already committed to drive in from out of town to run with me. Though I felt my fear wasn't showing, a few things began to give it away.
In light of the cold temps, I sent "Coach Lyrica" an email asking, "...how do I handle the cold weather?" My hope was that she'd respond by saying something like "don't train in temps below 70 degrees (just kidding...lol). I really hoped she'd set the bar at not running below 40 degrees. Her response, however, was (and I quote):
"The key to running in the cold is to dress in layers."
Really Lyrica...REALLY?! Clearly, there was no out for me. So, with temps below 40 in the wee hours of the morning, I set off to run. In the process, I reminded myself of what I teach others. Performance failures happen for two reasons:
We're unwilling to sustain the level of performance necessary to achieve the desired results
We don't fully employ the skill set we have to achieve the desired results
As a runner, that translates into whether I can sustain the pattern of behavior of consistently running a few times a week, every week, every month, every year to achieve the results I want; and whether I can employ the skills (nutrition, stretching, pace, breathing, etc.) necessary to maintain it.
If I really want to run a 5k, 10k, or 1/2 marathon, I have to make the commitment everyday. On the off days, I have to be committed to cross-training or rest. My why is two fold: I want to be fit & healthy, and I want kick Type II diabetes in the butt! Knowing Lyrica is there to challenge me and cheer me on in the running is encouraging. Knowing she is committed to running my first race with me is a blessing.
The right words spoken at the right time are often the encouragement we need to continue moving forward. The parallels between my running journey and my walk of faith don't escape my notice. God has a plan for my life in Christ. His training plan for developing me is laid out in His Word--the Bible. As I did with Lyrica, there are times when I'd like for God to lower the bar. Instead, He requires my whole-hearted obedience and loves me through the difficult spaces. I certainly have "off-days" when I look less like a vessel of honor and more like a pile of rubbish.
As I consider the strategy of dressing in layers to weather the cold, I'm reminded that the Lord often does His work in my life in layers as well. Each season of growth in Christ is necessary for the season that follows it. I find great encouragement in the promise that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it (Phil 1:6). It means He's committed to running the race of life with me and getting me to the finish line. Pondering that blesses my soul in ways that can't be articulated!
I still have quite a few weeks before the 5k. I'm hopeful of the outcome and committed to the process of the journey. Beyond that, I'm committed to my journey of faith in the Lord and grateful for the process (and progress) of my redemption. I'll keep you posted....
Stay close to Him. Live beautiful