Living a full life means attending to each of the four areas of life, what I call the spirit, the heart, the mind, and the body. Today I want to talk about the body, which includes not just our physical bodies but also the elements that make up our physical world, like career, finances, and home.
I love running. It’s good for my spirit as well as my body. Running can teach many life lessons.
I get extra life lessons because I have exercise-induced asthma. This condition makes running very challenging for me.
I don’t have full-blown asthma. I don’t need medication or have any sort of respiratory attacks. But I often find myself short on breath after climbing just a few flights of stairs. That means that I have to work much harder than the average person to achieve the same level of performance.
This wouldn’t be much of a problem if I weren’t competitive.
When I first started running races, it was very hard for me to see so many people pass me. For a long time I just couldn’t run the entire 3.1 miles of a 5K race. And it frustrated me that even giving my all wasn’t enough.
As a part of training to run the entire distance, I encountered what became for me a mantra: Slow and steady wins your race.
To forgo my frustration, I needed to quiet my competitive side. To do that, I convinced myself that I wasn’t competing against anyone but myself. And the only measurement that meant anything was whether or not I achieved my goal.
Then, like Rocky Balboa preparing for his first fight with Apollo Creed, I made sure that my goal was simply going the distance and nothing else. Running from start to finish was all that mattered. Period.
The first half of the race was not that challenging for me. I had been training for this moment for several months on hills, and downtown Charleston, South Carolina, is as flat as it gets. By the time we hit the halfway point at Battery Park, I knew I was doing good. And I got a great view of the bay as a sort of celebration.
But my victory would not be won easily. As I completed the second mile, I was still running. But my exercise-induced asthma was catching up to me. With each tenth of a mile my body was screaming at me louder and louder to stop.
But my mind refused to relent.
My heart rate monitor said I was still good, though how long that would last I couldn’t predict. I couldn’t even understand why this was happening to me. I had done everything right. I had trained for months on tougher terrain. I watched my diet the night before. I had consumed plenty of water before the race as well as a small snack to fuel me. This was the moment.
Yet with each step I ran my body was screaming, “STOP!”
Very quickly my only option for continuing was to appeal to heaven. I prayed within my heart, “Please help me to finish this race. I simply cannot do it without Thy help. I need Thee. Please help me.”
In that moment I felt a small surge come into me. I could still feel my body wanting me to stop, but I could also see the finish line. I dug deep and pulled out my last reservoirs of energy.
As I crossed the finish line, I literally cried. I could hardly believe that after years of trying I had finally run the entire distance. In between tears, I thanked God for His mercy in providing strength to finish.
My time wasn’t what anyone would call great, but to this day I have yet to run a 5K any faster. I know that one day I will, but I marvel that in the last 4 years I still haven't been able to beat it.
Slow and steady won my race, and it can win yours, too. Hmm, I wonder if there are any life lessons here . . . . :)
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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