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Lessons for Christians from a Mediocre Runner by Andrew Nash

Last year, I had a crazy idea: I wanted to run. Specifically, I wanted to run 31 miles in races in the year I was mostly 31. I was never a runner. I “won” fourth place in the mile run in fifth grade, but I almost certainly lost count of how many laps I ran, which is why the word “won” is in quotes. But I wanted to run. I’d made a few short-lived attempts over the years to get into running, but I’d never stuck with it. In 2015, after some major life events, I finally had both the desire and the time to take up running again.

Over the course of the year, I ran more than 400 kilometers in practice, and I met my goal of 31 miles in races. I improved my health, my time, my pace, my weight, and my self-confidence. I also learned many lessons from running that I should have learned from reading the Bible.

Think Big

Running a 5K was a “bucket list” item for me as a non-athlete, but I ran my first successful one in the summer of 2016. I ran another race that fall. Yet I wanted to be ambitious in 2017. A 5K is 3.1 miles, I was 31 years old, and suddenly I got the idea to run 31 miles in a year. It seemed like a big challenge.

God often told people to do big things. He told Abraham and Sarah they were going to have a son. In many translations of the Bible, they’re described as not just old, but “very old.”God told Moses and the Israelites to run into the desert with Pharaoh in hot pursuit. God told Joshua to conquer the Promised Land. Jesus told his disciples to feed thousands of people with one kid’s lunch.

Crazy things are made possible through Him. When God plants a vision in your head, it provides focus, clarity and an endpoint to your efforts.


Have A Plan With Short-Term Goals

When I committed to running, I needed a plan. The plan I had eased me into the practice of running and not asking too much too quickly. It also held me accountable and challenged me to make progress — even small progress.

Late in the training, I was nervous about running two miles nonstop. I’d never run two miles until 2013 — the only time I’d reach that goal for three years. Finally reaching that short-term goal helped me feel like I could reach the next goal.

God told Nehemiah to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, but Nehemiah spent time making a plan first. Moses got help from his father-in-law to make a plan to avoid being overwhelmed by his duties.

To Do Something Big, You’ll Have to Change

Running is hard. Running in the cold is hard. Running in the heat is harder. Waking up before sunrise to run in the dark is hard. But those were changes I had to make in order to meet my goal.

Moses and the Israelites had to change their mindset to one reliant on God to provide in the desert. The Disciples and Paul had to give up the lives they had known to follow Jesus. In order to preach to Nineveh, Jonah had to change his heart first.

Keep Your Eyes Up

When I stared at the horizon, I ran best. When I stared at my feet, I ran poorly. It’s a focus issue: Keep your eyes on what’s important and not your present difficulties.

Peter learned the same lesson. When he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. When we take our eyes off Jesus and think only of our daily difficulties, we’ll sink, too.

There Will Be Obstacles

Half of my runs were part of the “Sweet 16,” four 4-mile races during the year. It was snowing on the first one. I was sick as a dog and didn’t attend the second. It poured rain on the third one. The fourth was hot and crowded.

The Israelites wandered for 40 years longer than they planned. Paul was shipwrecked three times. There was no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph. All these things worked out biblically, even when it didn’t go as planned.


God rested on the seventh day. I took a nap after I ran races. That’s the same, right?

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