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Running the Race
Photo: Philip Lange
A few weeks ago, we had a gorgeous, sunny day, made all the more spectacular by the fact that it interrupted a long, dreary stretch of gray days of this year’s sorely protracted winter. As I dodged patches of slushy snow on the sidewalk, I wondered whether attempting my usual four-mile loop was actually a good idea. I had only done a few runs this winter, all of them while visiting my parents in southern California, and this was my first in my own northern city since last fall.

The air was rather chilly, and I was already feeling tired after only about six minutes. I considered turning around, but thought I should probably stick with it, since I almost always feel better after the second mile. As I continued to run, I became increasingly glad that I hadn’t stopped early. I began to warm up, and by the time I reached the lake, still white with snow and glittering under the cloudless sky, I was positively ecstatic. Traces of the long winter seemed to slip away as I continued to run, giddy and euphoric, as the sun warmed my back and cast my shadow in front of me. By the time I got home, I felt like a new woman.

A few days later, I headed out for another run. It was cloudy and far less inspiring out, but I knew I should go anyway. As luck would have it, the storm started as soon as I got out the door—rain, and then sleet. I kept going, and completed my three-mile loop, but this time by the time I got home, I wasn’t thrilled and renewed, I was just cold, wet, and tired—and wondering how I ever thought I loved running.

Less Than Inspiring

I have trained for and run three marathons. Sometimes I have runs like the first one I mentioned, where everything just seems to fit, and I have an incredible experience. Much more frequently, though, my runs are more like the second one I described; they may not be awful, but they’re certainly less than inspiring.

That’s the way life is. Sometimes we have successes and our runs seem easy; other times, we suffer. Some days I’ll breeze through a longer run, only to feel barely able to complete a much shorter run just a day or two later. By now, I’ve learned that the nature of running—as well as of life—is ups and downs. Daily training runs can be a drag, but race day, and other occasional “highs,” makes it all worthwhile. The things that are important to us are the ones worth working hard for, and worth sticking with.

It’s hanging in there that’s important. The Apostle Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). The good race is a completed race. Training for the race comes with ups and downs, just like life does. Being a successful runner doesn’t mean you have to love every minute you’re on the trail, any more than it means coming in first in every race you enter. It means accepting the hard times with the good ones; staying with your training program, even when it’s difficult; and, most of all, maintaining close contact with your Coach. That’s running the good race.

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By C. Myers. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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