My Thoughts After the First Week of Training for a Half Marathon

Training for the Lake Powell 2019 Half Marathon has begun and apart from my extremely sore legs, I’m feeling great! Sunshine and endorphins do wonders for my mood 🙂

The weather has finally cooperated long enough for us to get outside and start running. Though this first week has been tough, it has been immensely fruitful, which makes me all the more excited for the next 29 weeks of training.

At about Day 3 of our training I realized that if I was going to do this, do it well, and actually enjoy it, then it wasn’t just my body that needed training, but my heart and mind as well.

I didn’t want to go into every run with dread and anxious anticipation of the discomforts my body was about to experience, but rather with gladness and joyful anticipation of the fruit that would result from this training.

But how? How does one do that exactly?

Like anyone who has been accustomed to many attempts at New Year’s Resolutions, I started making a list of goals and plans for my training. As I developed some ideas, checklists, healthy menus and running schedules, my mind returned to an article that I had read by David Mathis about a year ago on DesiringGod.org titled Do You Exercise Like a Nonbeliever?.

I realized that no matter how many changes I made physically; no matter what my exercise habits, times, routines, health choices, or sleep patterns looked like, nothing was ever going to really improve until I addressed the lies and fears that had rooted themselves deep in my heart and mind over the years.

Regardless of the goals that you might have, I want to encourage you as I encourage myself. We need to remember why it is that we do what we do.

For me, my goals consist of physical exercise and training. But whatever it is that you have set your mind to, it is important that we remember the God who grants us the ability to do these things in the first place and worship Him for His grace and kindness in that.

training for the big(ger) race

Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving for it is made holy by the Word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

As with most things that we set our minds to, there are some internalized lies and fears that we may face about ourselves and our ability to accomplish the goals that we set.

For me, since I have never really considered myself a natural runner, I have spent years believing that no matter how much I try, I will never actually enjoy running or be good at it.

After recognizing this lie, the real work began as I started discrediting this fear with helpful truths from Scripture and the wise-counsel of those who have gone before me.

Truth #1: You were made to move.

Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…(1 Timothy 4:4)

This includes exercise and physical activity. The ability to run 13.1 miles is a precious gift, yet one that I have quickly and easily disregarded because I knew it would likely involve some discomfort at times.

Therefore, Step 1 in making my half marathon training holy and pleasing to God is to thank Him explicitly for the ability to run and train; for lungs that work, strong legs and arms, balance, and the endurance to keep going.

Truth #2: Physical exertion is valuable.

…for it is made holy by the Word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:5)

This involves knowing and understanding what the Word of God says about our bodies and then responding appropriately (in prayer).

Step 2 then in making my half marathon training holy and pleasing to God is to understand and dwell on what God says about my body.

  • My body belongs to God.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

God not only created us, but also bought us back at the infinite cost of his own Son. Therefore, God emphatically means for us to honor him by making use of the bodies he has given us and to not leave them unnecessarily inactive.

  • God commends bodily exertion.

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)

God is pleased when we are active and exert our bodies through the effort of work (Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:10), hard work (2 Tim. 2:6), and bodily training (1 Tim. 4:8).

  • Spiritual health is ultimate; physical health is not.

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)

The charge to bodily exertion is always subdued for the Christian. God does indeed value the exertion of our bodies, but it is important to remember that physical exercise only has some value in light of godliness.

This becomes fruitful then when the practice of physical exertion and training pushes us rather than hinders us towards a greater enjoyment of Christ and greater discipline in our pursuit of godliness.

Truth #3: Exercise is a means of worship and supplication.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Because of this, Step 3 in making my half marathon training holy and pleasing to God is to start praying, asking God for help in this process.

Here are a few prayers provided in David Mathis’ article that I have considered and put to memory. I would encourage you to tailor them and use them as well as you pursue your goals.

Father, please give me the will to overcome laziness tomorrow; to lace up my shoes and take the first step – and then work such discipline throughout my life in my fight against sin.

Father, give me the drive to push my body beyond what is merely comfortable, to ‘discipline my body and keep it under control’ (1 Cor. 9:27) and work in me, by your Spirit, so that physical training may serve as the ripening of the spiritual fruit of self-control (Gal. 5:23).

Father, loosen my grip on my own performance and results and personal goals. May my training not ultimately be about me, but about my increased enjoyment of Jesus.

Father, guard me from valuing this training more than godliness. Rather, make these efforts holy, through my acting in faith, so that this training serves my holiness instead of competing with it.

Father, grant that I would know you and enjoy you more through pushing my body in this way. Let me feel your pleasure through this natural gift so that I am spiritually satisfied enough to sacrifice my own preferences and personal routines to meet the needs of others.

Truth #4: This is not for you.

…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Ultimately, my training and this half marathon are not for me or my own personal achievement. Rather, it is for the greater joy of knowing God.

As 1924 Olympic Gold Medalist runner Eric Liddell once said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

While God may not have made me particularly fast per se, He still made me to feel His pleasure in all that I do, including running a half marathon.

“God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Therefore, what can make this training process holy, fruitful, loving, and spiritually beneficial is the prayer that my expenditures of energy will lead not to a finish line or a medal, but to my increased enjoyment of God’s presence and a readiness to expend myself in self-sacrificial love, though it may be uncomfortable, to others for their spiritual well-being.

Whatever your goal may be; whatever your plan of action consists of, may I encourage you as I encourage myself to remember why it is that we do what we do.

Everything that we do here on earth has the capacity to be spiritually driven; to push us closer to Christ and direct us down a path of holiness rather than worldliness. Be mindful of this as you pursue the stepping stones of a career, an education, a bucket list item, or a personal accomplishment.

To God be the glory, above all else.

(Reference: Do You Exercise Like a Nonbeliever? by David Mathis; DesiringGod.org)

2 thoughts on “My Thoughts After the First Week of Training for a Half Marathon”

  1. GIRL! I am ALWAYS encouraged by your writing! It is always packed with so much truth and I can always take (lots of) things away that I can apply to my life and things I’m going through. Please keep honoring God with all He’s given you. Wow. I’m encouraged by your whole life 😊 I’d love to get together soon! I’m going to think about these truths all day!! I love how you said that it starts with the lies we’ve believed and that is SO TRUE! I read something yesterday that said that we CAN change, and yes, it absolutely requires God’s work. I LOVE how hard things being us to our knees. Love you girl 😊 Be blessed

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