Staying fit: Some lessons for the long run


As I trained for and ran in a marathon, some interesting insights developed in those zen-like moments of plodding down the road. You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy these lessons, as they apply to most anything in life.
     1.   Rest. Recover. Repeat. -  As I ran I used a timer to prompt me to walk for a short bit, and then as I heard the beep, beep, I was reminded to begin running again.  I could run hard, knowing I would get a small rest soon enough.  All along the race route there were water stations so I could replenish fluids.  As Christ-followers, we have a built-in system for resting. It’s called Sabbath, but we routinely break this Commandment to rest. Recover. Repeat.  How can you make sure you have time to rest and recover this year?
    2.  Get Moving. Keep Moving. – There were many mornings where I did not feel like exiting my comfortable bed, getting dressed, and running however many miles I needed to run that day.  But I discovered if I laid out my clothes and shoes the night before, I felt more momentum in the morning to go get them and use them.  If I could just get moving in the morning, my body would respond and I could keep moving.  What will it take for you this year to get moving toward what you want to achieve?
    3.  Planning the Process – While I had run some races before, I had never run a marathon, so I didn’t know what to do to prepare.  I researched and found a workable plan for my schedule. It prepared me, over time, for longer distances. My endurance improved dramatically and I had the foundation for doing the whole 26.2 miles (however slowly!) come race day.  Without a plan I would have had no idea about how often to run, for how long, to have rest days or not. I would have never made it to the actual marathon race.  What is important to you this year that will need some good planning?
   4.  Have Fuel, Will Travel – In the midst of training, on the longer runs I knew I would need regular refueling to get through them.  I tried all types of bars, drinks, and gels and finally found one that worked.  Now I knew I would ingest energy and needed calories about every 45 minutes so what my body needed was there in a constant supply.  I never ran low on energy (muscle soreness yes, but not on energy), as a result. We wouldn’t eat just one nice meal a week and think that is enough to last us all seven days, so why would we think that one hour of worship is enough to last us as we follow Christ for seven days?  Whether prayer, or study, meditation or any number of spiritual disciplines, we need spiritual fuel.
I’m trying to achieve and integrate these lessons just like you, and have a ways to go, but let’s keep moving forward together in 2013!  I’d love to hear what you want to achieve this next year!
Get John’s latest book, “Lessons for the Long Run,” at Dr. John A. Page is pastor of discipleship at Athens First UMC. Email John at