Today’s guest post is contributed by Corinne Baur, the author of “Running by The Book”, a 12-week Bible study and running training program, and has successfully created faith-based running programs for churches, with followers nationwide.
It has been a dream of mine to run a 50-mile trail race. For many, this seems like a crazy endeavor, and to be honest, until a few years ago I also thought it was a little insane.
I am an average runner. I’m not fast, and not particularly gifted in running. My finishing medals are acquired through pure grit and determination, not natural ability. Yet God has given me a passion for it. He calls us to take our passions and use them to His glory, even if we aren’t the best or the elite. So in obedience, I run.
For me, running is a journey of perseverance and faith, Hebrews 12:1-2 in action:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
It takes perseverance to train day after day and faith to believe the training is enough to make it to the finish line. I began my training with the prayer that God would show up mightily, using my experiences to teach me His truths and ultimately bring me closer to Him.
He did not disappoint, but of course, nothing happened the way I had planned.
After months of training I failed my first 50-mile race attempt. I missed a time cut-off by three minutes, and I was devastated. How could I work so hard for something, feel I had God’s blessing in the process, only to fail?
Despite my disappointment, I’m not one to give up on a goal (we runners are a tenacious bunch), so I attempted a second 50-mile race three weeks later. But this time, I allowed the principles God showed me through the failure of my first race to guide me as I pursued my goal:
Dwelling on mistakes
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1:7-8
During my first race I accidentally veered off course for a couple of miles. It was a huge mistake, but I dwelled on it for the rest of the race, mentally beating myself up and wasting tremendous mental energy replaying what I did wrong. Dwelling on my mistake simply kept my focus on me and my imperfections.
In my second race I still made mistakes, but I let them go. I refused to let my mistakes affect the outcome. While we should strive for Christ-like perfection, Christ’s blood covers our mistakes. He simply asks us to acknowledge what we did wrong, learn from them and move on.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27
When I wasn’t beating myself up for getting lost, I worried during my first race. I worried that my pace was too slow. I worried that I wasn’t drinking enough, eating enough calories. I worried I wasn’t going to finish. I didn’t notice the beauty of the mountain trail or enjoy the race. Jesus says in Matthew 6:27 we cannot add a single hour to our lives through worry. My worrying certainly did not benefit my race. All it did was steal the pleasure from the experience.
When I began to stress about my pace and finishing in time during my second race, I thought about Matthew 6:34 NIV: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. I mentally broke the challenges into smaller manageable sections, and focused only on the next section in front of me. I enjoyed the present and didn’t worry about what was to come. That was a game-changer for me.
Practice gratitude and enjoy the journey
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
I lost sight of all of my blessings during (and immediately after) my first race. I sobbed after my failed attempt. I had just run further than I had ever run before but instead of being grateful, I wallowed in self-pity. I couldn’t even be happy for those who did meet their goals. All that mattered was I didn’t get to finish. I forgot about being thankful for the journey.
The second time around, I was prepared for the possibility that I might not finish. I was OK with that.
Running is a gift. The ability to run at all is amazing and I am so very grateful. Despite its earthly weaknesses and failures, my body is fearfully and wonderfully made. There may come a day when I can no longer run a mile, much less 50. I want to be grateful for the gift I have been given and appreciate the experience, regardless of whether I earn a finishing medal.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73: 26
When I realized I might not make the final cutoff in time during my first race, I begged God to make my feet faster. I prayed that He would make me stronger and faster, rather than relying on His strength. I expected Him to perform a miracle, but I didn’t trust Him enough to actually give Him my race.
In contrast, the last five miles of my second race were the toughest miles I have ever run. I truly didn’t know if I had it in me to finish, every part of me wanted to lay down in the dirt and quit. So I focused on God’s strength, and I gave Him the race. I didn’t ask Him to rescue me from it – after all, I had signed up willingly. I knew if I was to finish it was going to be in His strength and to His glory, not my own. By trusting Him I knew that if for some reason the outcome wasn’t what I expected, if I didn’t finish within the cutoff time or didn’t even finish at all, I was going to be OK.
I am thrilled with completing 50 miles. I was given the gift of living out 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Corinne Baur is the author of Running by The Book, a 12-week Bible study and running training program, and has successfully created faith-based running programs for churches, with followers nationwide. As a Road Runner’s Club of America certified long-distance running coach and National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, Corinne helps people achieve their physical and spiritual fitness goals through training. She lives in Colorado with her husband and children, where she energetically trains for several races each year, from 5Ks to ultra-marathons.