Run no. 69 – A six-thirty mile pace – really?

stopwatch

 

Run No. 69         Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 43’41” (PB 38’ 38”)

A sunny but frosty and cold day today, so I was running with full hat and gloves.

As I was approaching the half-way point of my run a passing cyclist called out,

Your doing a six-thirty mile pace, brilliant!

My first reaction was “That’s not right!” It seemed inconceivable to me that only my second run in after a five month break I would be doing that kind of pace.

I am also well aware that cycle speedometers are notoriously inaccurate and depend on the wheel measurement that the user enters; they can also be affected by tyre pressure changes.

A six-thirty mile pace would have led to a split time of 14’ 42”. My actual split time was 20’ 21”! That’s quite a margin of error on his speedometer!

I started to muse about how this poor cyclist probably thought he was a lot faster than he really was. Which led to a spiritual reflection; that the standard against which we measure ourselves is vitally important.

Like me you have probably heard rather unpleasant people boast that they are all right as they have never murdered anyone.

Well if the measure of a successful human life is not to murder someone, then they are doing fine. But what if the measure with which our lives are evaluated by God is completely different? If so then they are living with a completely false sense of security.

We know from the Bible that God’s command for humankind is to

Be holy as I am holy.

What this means in concrete terms is spelled out in the 10 commandments –

have no other gods, have no idols, honour God’s name, keep one day a week as a day to focus on God, honour your parents, do not murder, do not steal, do not lie, do not commit adultery (elsewhere extrapolated to all sexual activity outside of marriage), do not envy what others have[1].

Jesus resumed all these positively into two commandments;

Love God with all your heart, soul and strength.

Love your neighbour as yourself[2].

Which reminds us that it is the love relationship that God wants – the commandments are just examples of ways in which our conduct can impair that relationship.

If that relationship is healthy then we will naturally shy away from things that we know displease God.

It is also a tall order, an impossible standard. Which is why the Christian religion is a religion founded upon grace – God’s unmerited favour.

We bring our broken, rather shabby lives before God and we say we are truly sorry for the times where we have missed the mark (the literal meaning of the word ‘sin’). We ask his forgiveness and we receive it – we are reset on the right path, the slate is wiped clean, we begin again.

But you can only access this grace, mercy and forgiveness if we know we need it; which is why the measure we use to assess our lives is vitally important.

Make sure your measure is true and reach for God’s grace when you fall short.

 

 

[1] Exodus 20 :1-17

[2] Matthew 22 :37-40

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Run no. 68 – The Way Out is Through

 

running-in-puddles

Run No. 66         Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 41’20” (PB 38’ 38”)

Run No. 67          Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 43’39” (PB 38’ 38”)

Run No. 68         Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 47’32” (PB 38’ 38”)

I’ve done that running-hiatus thing again. I haven’t been for a run for about 5 months. There are lots of reasons, but they are mostly to do with the cowardly avoidance of discomfort. But hey, I’m back and at it again.

You know, of course, that the first run after such a long break is going to be tough.

The first 20 minutes were fine but then the body started to feel the effort and complain.

I was expecting that, I was ready for that, I could handle that.

What I wasn’t expecting or ready for was that my usual route was flooded.

We have had wet weather for a few weeks now and the past 24 hours have been constant heavy rain. The already waterlogged ground has not been able to cope with this rain and the rivers are now bursting their banks.

As I began my loop of King Lear Lake in Watermeads Country Park I found myself running through sections of the path that were under water.

The first sections were short areas of flooding and the water was only a few centimetres deep, so that didn’t unduly concern me.

However as things progressed the sections of flooding lengthened to hundreds of metres and the water depth rose considerably.

The water was freezing cold, dirty and the depth of it forced me to high-step to avoid tripping. The extra effort required, by a body that was already suffering, was not inconsiderable!

Everything in me said stop; turn around; find another way; go home!

But I’m a runner.

Runners don’t do that.

So I did what runners do, I found a way to convince myself to carry on.

I told myself –

“I’m wet already.”

“This extra effort I’m being forced to do will pay dividends in fitness.”

“Don’t be a wimp!”

And so on…

And it worked. I made it all the way around. At times the water was just below my knees and I was forced to wade rather than run. But I never stopped.

I felt pretty heroic. The odd random dog-walker shouted their surprise at my bravery/stupidity! It felt pretty good.

I’m almost certain that I will be the only person to run around King Lear Lake today and I am good with that. It is a kind of victory.

Reflecting on this I was reminded that the greatest prisons that exist are the ones inside our own heads. When we are faced with an unexpected challenge – like unforeseen flooding – the greatest factor on whether or not we succeed is whether can imagine ourselves succeeding.

Without a positive mental attitude that can envisage success being possible, we will not even try to face the challenge; we are already defeated in our own heads.

In life most of our greatest challenges are the ones that we cannot foresee – unemployment, bereavement, relationship breakdown, serious illness or accidents.

It is in these moments that our mental approach is crucial. Can we see a way through? Can we imagine a life of joy and hope on the other side of this trauma?

It is here that a person of faith has a great advantage. We believe that God controls the course of our lives and that whatever we have to face, God has allowed it.

All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.[1]

If God has allowed it then he must know we can get through it and he must know that something good can come of it, as I don’t believe that God allows pointless suffering. Whether that god is something being transformed in us, or some benefit for others – sometimes it is not easy to identify the good. But I cannot conceive how God can be true to the nature he reveals in the Bible if he allows suffering that has no point.

The other great advantage a person of faith has is that we believe that when we open our lives to God we do not walk alone.

Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid because you are with me. Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me.[2]

Often the only way out is through – running teaches us that. Life teaches us that. How good to know that you go through it with the God who knows the way through who knows that you have the capability to get through, and who will accomplish something worthwhile in the process.

Keep on running.

 

[1] Psalm 139 :16 ICB

[2] Psalm 23 :4 ICB