Run no. 58 – Running for life



Run No. 58         Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 42’30” (PB 38’ 28”)

‘Training for anything?’ I was asked as I ran passed a bloke out today.

‘Only to try and stay alive!’ I riposted.

‘Me too’, he replied!

I added, ‘At my age it’s just a joy to still be able to run!’ I then sped off.

Well perhaps ‘sped’ is not exactly the right word.

And then it happened again.

That thing that running does to your brain. When something will fire off a synapse somewhere and you find yourself thinking new thoughts, seeing things in a different way, insights come.

I thought am I running as a form of training so that I can stay alive?

At one level I suppose the answer is yes. We all know that regular exercise is beneficial, that it protects you against several different forms of cancer and other diseases. We also know that keeping fit will help to maintain your quality of life for as long as possible.

Of course all of these gains are only statistical. They apply to populations, not necessarily to individuals.

I suppose if you include ‘quality of life’ as well as ‘quantity’ of life, then it makes better sense. We all want compressed morbidity i.e. to stay healthy and fit right up to the point that something kills us.

In connection with this reflection on the purpose of running, as friend suggested to me that I stop timing myself, that I forget the PB, and that I just enjoy the activity of running for itself.

I realise that there is merit in what he says.

Sometimes we are so focussed on the goals that we stop enjoying the process – and that is true in life as well as in sport.

When we are totally goal focussed we live diminished lives, we rob ourselves of joy, we become poorer people.

I think this is also true spiritually.

The Westminster catechism reminds us that,

‘man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.’

Expressing it slightly differently St John of the Cross wrote,

‘at the evening (of our lives) we will be examined as to love.’

Neither of those leave place for a focus on achievement.

What we are called to do is to love God, and to allow His love in us to reach out to others – in words and actions.

Whatever the results of that may be, is not for us to determine. It is beyond our pay grade.

If we are focussed on spiritual achievement we set ourselves up for a fall.

Firstly, because we have no control over what God will do with our service, so we risk either disappointment (if we see nothing happening), or an overinflated sense of our own importance (if God does indeed choose to work through us). Neither of these is helpful.

Secondly, the most significant danger this results focus poses is that it distracts us from the main thing – our love relationship with God – glorifying, loving and enjoying Him. It’s a little like being given an expensive present and discarding it to play with the box it came in.

Enjoy the run for itself.


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