What every non-runner needs to learn about the race


I live with a bunch of runners. (Note my careful choice of words.)

My husband coaches cross-country and track and can’t resist discipling our own 8-14 year-olds in the art of running in his free time. My eight year-old ran two 5ks in the past two days. They are all putting me to shame.

But though I don’t count myself among these dedicated athletes, I’m learning a couple valuable lessons from them.

First of all, serious runners don’t have an “off season.”

  • When one season is done, they condition for the next.
  • They eat wisely year-round.
  • They go to bed early each night so they’re ready for those pre-dawn workouts.

After all, to stop training is to lose ground.

Secondly, running requires self-discipline: a throwing off of hindrances and entanglements.

Real runners resist the temptations that are accepted as “normal” to everyone else:

  • soft drinks
  • excessive sugar
  • late nights
  • injury-inducing activities

Runners have a goal in mind and persevere to that end.

It’s easy to forget we’re in a spiritual race, isn’t it? Yet it’s SO easy to be hindered, to become entangled.

When others indulge in whatever makes them happy, we look at our well-worn running shoes and our narrow path and wonder what would be so wrong with a break.

Why not enjoy an off season?

Wouldn’t it feel great to sleep in? Put our feet up? Eat without restrictions?

How easily we veer off course when our eyes are fixed on the fun everyone else is having.

But how different the perspective when we are instead,

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2-3

There is lasting joy set before us too!

If we stay on course, persevere, cast aside the weights and entanglements, our sacrifices will pale in comparison to the reward.

I don’t want to be disqualified.

I don’t want to lose heart.

I want to say with Paul and so many of the witnesses who have gone before me:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:7

Jesus, please strengthen our “feeble arms and weak knees” (Heb. 12:12). Help us fix our eyes on YOU!

*How’s your race going today? Any words of encouragement to add to your fellow runners?


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4 thoughts on “What every non-runner needs to learn about the race

  1. Rebeka November 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm Reply

    This came in such perfect timing for me! I have heard God prompting me to live a healthy spirit-driven lifestyle for a few years now. I have been slowly changing my eating habits so He can have all of me. This morning I was wanting coffee and a pastry so badly, but both affect my body in such a negative way. I was almost there to get them when I decided to turn around. I can’t keep saying “tomorrow I’ll…” Or “after this I’ll…”
    It seems so silly to say out loud, but receiving this email a little while after confirmed that I’m going in the right direction!
    Thank you for writing your blog! It’s a blessing to read!

  2. jambileee November 13, 2013 at 8:03 am Reply

    I’m training with a group of INSANE triathletes, some of whom have managed to do not one, but two of the hardest Ironman or Ironman length races this year. Other’s have gone to the European Championships or The XTERRA World Championships.

    They are the most inspiring group of people I”ve ever trained around. I’ve never done any competitive sport, and they are slowly sucking me in……I completed 2 5k running races, 3 1500m or longer open water swimming races, 1 8.5k running race and one sprint triathlon (my first) this year.

    One of the things I”ve learned and compared my spiritual life to is the training slow in order to avoid injuries. Even if your mind goes fast, your body doesn’t, and both have to listen to each other. We can’t swim 2200meters if we haven’t trained. We can’t push our bodies to the max without taking care of them.

    So it is in the spiritual realm. We must listen to our spirits and souls, and well as His Spirit so we slowly run the race to last, and not to burn out.


    • Jennifer Ebenhack November 13, 2013 at 11:46 am Reply

      That’s really thought-provoking! I’m thinking about how the Lord asks us to be faithful in the small things before He entrusts us with “much.” You’re right. I think we really want to jump into the Ironman’s of life without patiently training first. Okay… the more I write here, the more I’m hearing God whisper to me. 🙂 Thanks so much, Jambilee!

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