Friday, October 22, 2010

Step by Step

Hi all.  Late one today, sorry about that.  
The lateness is mostly due to the 16 miles I ran today.  I say that not to brag about it in any way, but just to make it clear that I had a lot of time on my hands to think today.  
Running 16 miles - or really any distance over 2 or 3 miles - is really an interesting study in focus, determination and perseverance.  As long as there is a base line of fitness distance running (if you aren't primarily concerned with time) isn't a matter of ability.  Basically if you have the ability and fitness to run 3 miles you can run 5 and so on.  Its why in marathon training the longest run prior to the marathon is typically 20 miles, and sometimes even 'only' 18.  
So if running these distances aren't about 'ability' than it is about something else.  It is, as I said above, about focus, determination and perseverance.  And really it is simply about focus.  What you focus on during a long run goes quite a way in determining if you are going to be successful or not.  
If you are focused on your pace and finishing strong or even your running form - things that you can control that help you complete your goal - then you are likely to be successful.  But over the course of 5 or 10 or 16 miles you are bound to have other things that push themselves into your thoughts and, if you let them, become your focus.  
Today at about mile 9 my right knee began to hurt [this did not come as a surprise as I fell on my last long run and my knee is still pretty black and blue - you will never guess why I fell . . . I got distracted by some construction work being done on a house down the street from us, lost focus on where I was going and . . . boom, hit the pavement].  
I was at a place where I could have turned around and been home in less than 2 miles.  But that would have left me 5 miles short of my goal and 5 miles short of where I needed to be to be up to date on my training.  
I had a choice, I could begin to focus on my knee and the pain there - which was not debilitating OR I could continue to focus on the goal and the things I could control.  
But my real point in all of this is that it wasn't as simple as making one choice and being done with it.  In a real, literal way with every step I took I was making a choice.  And the choices I make when I am on a run make a big difference and go a long way to determining if the run is a success or not and more than that if it is a 'good run' or not.  
The choices just don't make a difference in if I complete the task or fulfill the goal but also my experience of it all - what I get out of it.  
But, of course, I am just talking about a run.  But the thing is, I'm not just talking about a run. All of this is true and applicable to our lives of faith as well - Its why Paul often used the running and race analogy.  
Every day we make one choice after another.  A central part of each choice we are making is what are we focusing on.  Are our choices reflecting a a focus on God and God's call and mission for our lives or are we allowing the other stuff (good and bad) to cloud our vision and get in the way of what we should be primarily focused on.  
Every choice we make either puts us closer to where God is calling us to be and who God is calling us to be or further away from our intended design and our intended purpose.  
Things 'just happen' all the time in our lives, but the truth of the matter is that almost always its really a question of where our focus is and what choices we are making.  
Well, if nothing else, now you know what I think about on my long runs.  
Have a great weekend.  

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