On Sunday 12th July, 2015, I participated and successfully completed the British 10K London Run. Upon crossing the finishing line, all the rigorous training and pain seemed justified, as I had raised £637.92p for the charity I decided to support, The Sickle Cell Society.
Due to the long distance nature of the run, I commenced my training months before the race and early into my preparation, God clearly reminded me that whilst I am running this physical race, I am also running the most important race of my life, my spiritual race. God articulated the significance of applying discipline, faith and endurance whilst running my spiritual race, as they are vital components for completion.
Below are a 3 things that I found useful whilst preparing for the British 10K London Run, in which I have and will continue to apply to my spiritual race.
1. Start by identifying why you are running the race and identify your end prize.
I decided to run the British 10K London Run because I wanted to make a financial donation to The Sickle Cell Society whilst raise more awareness about the fantastic work carried out by the organisation. The charity supports those touched by the sickle cell condition via offering good quality care, advice, counseling, financial assistance, respite support services and much more. I wanted to be intentional about my fundraising, so I set the target of raising no less than £500, as well as completing the run in under an hour. One may ask, why did I set such a high target? Well due to the long distance nature of the event, I knew that at some point during the preparation for the race or during the 10K, I would feel tired, weak and may even contemplate my ability to complete the race. However, by having a specific target to achieve, my motivation was fixated on reaching the finish line in order to accomplish my goal.
So why are we running this spiritual race?
In Hebrews 12 verse 1, Paul encourages us to get rid of any weight and sin that is preventing us from doing the will of God and to run our spiritual race with patience. We all know that our Christian spiritual race is not a sprint but more a marathon comprising of the highs and lows of everyday life. In verse 2, Paul reminds us to fix our gaze on Jesus, as he is the ‘author and finisher of our faith’, the greatest example of our faith and runner of the Christian race. “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”, this explains why we are running the spiritual race. Jesus Christ ‘endured’ (which means to ‘Put up with something or somebody unpleasant’, ‘Continue to live through hardship or adversity’
‘Face and withstand with courage’) the persecution and shame on the cross to pay for our sins, so that we may not die but receive the gift of eternal life and join him also. Jesus’ race wasn’t one of ease, however he endured, continued despite the unpleasantness, as he was aware of his mission and knew that at the end of his race, he would be seated in glory at the right hand of God’s throne. We need to be faithful just like Christ, fix our eyes upon him, and continue despite the inevitable obstacles, persecution, hardships that will come our way, in order to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” and enter heaven.
2. Start a healthy diet, disciplined exercise regime and get rid of anything that will hinder your running performance
The most successful runners have a strict diet, a disciplined exercise regime and eliminate factors that can hinder their running performance.
After signing up to the 10K run, the first thing I did was make amendments to my diet, after all ‘we are what we eat’. I tried (I repeat tried lol) to limit my consumption of fatty, unhealthy foods that polluted my body and made me feel lethargic and indulged in foods that nourished my body, contained nutrients and vitamins and energised me.
It is vital that our spiritual diet is also healthy and not polluted with junk and harmful substances that affect the running of our race. The bible is all the vitamins, nutrients, fruits, vegetables and all the other good stuff in one.
Psalms 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” the bible is the only book that will fully satisfy and nourish us and therefore we ought to desire it and feed off it daily.
1 Peter 2:2 “As newborn babies, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” through feeding off the word of God we will grow in strength, knowledge and wisdom, as the bible teaches, encourages, corrects, instructs and is the ultimate life manual. Once we consume the word of God, the scriptures will dwell inside of us richly; and when faced with hardships, we will be able to draw upon scriptures and will be reminded that our God is faithful, he will never leave us or forsake us and we will persevere and continue our race. Failure to feed upon things that edify our spirit will only starve our spirit and ultimately affect the running of our race. So let’s strive to feed upon the word, things that please God and not what displeases him.
Disciplined Exercise Regime
It was only when I started eating healthily was I able to start a disciplined exercise training plan, as I knew that I wouldn’t be able to endure a disciplined exercise regime if I wasn’t feeling fit.
The term ‘discipline’ means ‘Training to improve strength or self-control’,
‘A system of rules of conduct or method of practices’ and ‘The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience’.
My disciplined exercise regime did not consist of much; it was merely to run 5K or 10K at 6.30am before work and carryout some cardio exercises to build up my endurance. Sometimes, the hardest part wasn’t the 5k or 10k run
but it was waking up at 5.30am, leaving my house when I felt tired, weak and when I contemplated withdrawing myself from the race. Other times it was a struggle to push on and continue to train with sprains and aching muscles but who said discipline made us feel comfortable?
Hebrews 12:11 reads “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”. For a moment, discipline will hurt, it will make you want to cry but stay assured that it will strengthen and improve you.
The bible is the perfect life manual. It teaches us how to live holy and acceptable lives to God. Living in a world that is based upon pleasing oneself, it is important that we use the word to direct how we live our lives, putting God at the forefront of everything that we do.
We need to be disciplined with our time, are we spending too much time on people and doing things and not enough time with God? Are we using our money wisely, are we paying our tithes? Are our tongues speaking life, encouraging, sharing The Gospel or are we gossiping and tearing one another down with our words? Are we making a conscious effort to let our light shine wherever we go or are we surrounding ourselves with people who dim our lights and draw us further away from God? It may hurt or be uncomfortable to wake up that extra hour early in order to have your devotion with God, praying, reading, mediating on his word, you may lose a few friends as you distance yourself from those who are drawing you away from God, however what seems unpleasant for a moment will develop and strengthen you for this life long race.
The term ‘exercise’ is defined as ‘The activity of exerting your muscles in various ways to keep fit’ and ‘Systematic training by multiple repetitions’.
Prior to training, I would stretch and warm up my muscles, resulting to my muscles feeling prepared to run. The more I stretched before my runs, the more at ease I felt whilst running.
On a daily basis, we need to exert our faith in God, stretching our trust in him, despite how we are feeling whilst running the race or whether or not we can see the finishing line
Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that “But without faith it impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek them.” It will be pointless running this life long race, if we do not trust God’s sovereignty, acknowledge that God is working everything out for our good and that he blesses those that are faithful to him.
Exercising our faith in God will give us the strength to endure, because we know that “But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear” God will never give us more than we can bear.
3. Do not run this race alone!
I always trained with my running partner who also joined me in running the 10K. When we would run at 6.30am, I would feel upbeat and energised up until the first 5K, and then I would feel weak, faintish, question why I entered myself into the race and state that I’m withdrawing myself from the run. My running partner would not encourage my pity but instead she would correct me in love, reminding me as to why I’m running this race, assuring me that I can push through and reach the 10K mark as well as demand that I stop talking nonsense. It so happened that she found the first 5K challenging so I would encourage her before I got weary. It’s really important that we surround ourselves with people that will push us to endure and not to quit.
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there will be many seasons during our race, ‘a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;’. At times running this race will feel like a breeze however we must also accept that there will be times where we may experience illness, bereavement, loss, hardships, adversity. Do we give up? No! We continue to read God’s word, pray, mediate, fast and we surround ourselves with iron sharpeners. Proverbs 27: 17 encourages us that
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Improve and refine your fellow brothers and sisters. Sometimes that refining may consist of correcting our friends in love, but when you care for someone, you want what’s best for them. Let’s surround ourselves with people that will motivate us to endure this race.
God got me through my 10K. I completed the run in 58 minutes (set the challenge to finish it under an hour) and raised £637.92p (set the goal to raise £500). I am confident that the completion of the 10k was the result of discipline, endurance and faith in God.
So fellow runners whether you are at the start, middle or coming towards the ending of your race, the race is not for the swift nor is the battle for the strong but those who endure until the end.