Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Journey to 26.2: Part 2

In my last post I began to detail my journey to completing my first marathon. Some of my highs and lows, especially though when I was going through ITBS (see previous post). 

The human body is incredible. Really. I believe now more than ever (actually always have:) that God in His omniscient way created humans with such specific and beautiful bodies (beauty in how they function) that, for lack of another word, it's just simply amazing. I also believe that we we're born to run. What I mean is that we we're not meant to be sedentary we we're meant to be active. Obviously the body needs rest, but even too much rest is actually unhealthy.

Yet being that this is not necessary a blog about running in particular (I'm contemplating starting one, should I?) I want to talk about what I left off in the first post. Some of the spiritual lessons I believe God was...well...teaching me and reminding me of...

Lessons learned:

1. My identity is found in Jesus: Some may be saying what? We live in a highly competitive world. Running as any sport is highly competitive. When I first started really pushing myself I began to 'tweet' some of the things I was doing. Quickly folks wanted to know how far, my time, and so on. I understand, it's part of it. Yet when I had to cut down drastically on the weekly mileage it was a huge hit to my ego. I will admit. I began to really look deep into myself and take a step back from all this training. The point: who I am is not based on what I can do as an avid runner, a pastor, or anything else. My identity, who I am, is determined by whose I am. I belong to Jesus, I have given my life to Jesus not because of what I do but because of what He has done. 

I don't believe it's wrong in wanting to improve at your job, make more money, run faster, live a healthier life. But as Christians we must remember that our identity is not about our achievements, our suppose prowess in a certain sport, or what car we drive, or how big our house is. In the end, when Jesus comes none of this will be of any good to us. Only comprehending, understanding and realizing that are identity is found in HIM.

2. Cross training: Ok though I mentioned this is not a blog about running per se. I will speak a little about it here. As I was trying to shake off ITBS I needed to find ways to keep up my physical fitness without running. Ever runner knows the importance of cross training, such as swimming, biking, or even the elliptical (as long as you have no pain when doing it). Cross training saved me. In essence the last three months before the marathon I never ran more than 15miles in one day. This really wasn't ideal. Although I had obviously had many long runs of that distance and more before the injury, after, I was cautious. I wanted to make sure I wasn't flaring things back up when it came to ITBS. 

I was specific, intentional, and consistant. Part of what I focused on was obviously keeping my heart rate at a certain level that was nearly the same as when I was running long distances. My thought was if I can keep my heart able to go fast for long periods of time, I could push my legs on through the pain during the race.

Too often Christians get stuck in a certain way of doing things. They may even blame everyone but themselves for their weak spiritual lives. I could of easy have said this ITBS is too much, I can't run, I'm done. Praise God I didn't , He help me find other ways to train for the same goal. There are so many ways in which God wants to use us. So many things that I believe He wants us to do, but sometimes we seem stuck in our one way of doing things, perhaps have a little 'pitty party' about our lives and become blind to the fact that in the midst of our problems God is calling us to perhaps change things up to accomplish His mission in ways we never thought possible.

3. Trust in God: Race day was only two weeks away. I decided to run a half marathon to see how the leg was doing. It did ok, though at the end I was feeling some discomfort, not a lot, but enough to keep me thinking. Along these lines my wife had to travel to San Francisco on business and I was going with her. I was a bit nervous that the week before the marathon, when all the pro's are saying to keep your routine, I was about to change things up a bit. Also in all my training I'm not the get up at 4a.m. guy to go exercise. Yet the race was starting at 5a.m. central time and I was spending most of the week before the race on pacific time!

By this point I just put it all in God's hands. This was important to me. I had trained, re-trained, changed several things in my personal life regarding health. I was putting it in God's hands. I let go...I enjoyed my time in San Fran., even ran up and down the wonderful hilly streets of San Francisco and loved it. 

When we finally got home, race day was only three days away. By this time everyone at church knew I was running a marathon, my family back home knew, of course everyone asking, 'are you ready?' Deep inside I knew physically I was ready, but in the back of my mind I wondered would this dreaded ITBS pain return, since to some degree it still lingered....

stay tuned for part 3...the race!


Monday, September 12, 2011

My journey to 26.2

I have always loved to exercise, and be active. It's a part of me. About two years ago I began to change my exercise regiment (that's for another blog theme:), which over time invigorated me and essentially in part lead me to start training to run a marathon.

To some degree I had always wanted to do it, but never really felt motivated to put in the time and effort it takes to be able to do it and do it with some form of success (at least in my eyes). Over the course of the training I lost about 20 pounds, began to eat better, drink a lot more water, and honestly was feeling better than I ever had in some time. Surely there were some aches and pains, blisters, and the losing of some toe nails. For many, those are just part of the running experience. Especially when you first start out.

For several months I was feeling what is called, 'runners high.' I was running 50-60miles a week like nothing, training in the very hot Mississippi weather, pushing my limits beyond what I had ever done before. At one point I even decided to go ahead and run the distance of a marathon (26.2miles) on a treadmill!

Then it happened...injury! It's called Iliotibial Band Syndrome. It is a superficial thickening of tissue that essentially goes from your hip to your knee. It's a common injury among runners for different reasons. This was an injury I honestly knew nothing about. I asked around, even asked a few folks that are runners about it but honestly got very little help. I obviously read more than my share of what this injury was about online and did get some answers.

I ended up seeing an orthopedic who is a knee specialist and was a runner, got some physical therapy, and did everything they said and then some. It helped, but the worse part about it, yet the most important part was I needed to stop running in order to really allow for the injury to heal. If you know anything about running and runners this is torture!

I was humbled, upset, and to some degree worried. By this time I had already registered for my first marathon and now I was thinking would I be able to do it now that I was sidelined. Sure I was still about three months away from the race, nonetheless going from 50-60miles a week to zero was physically and emotionally painful.

Yet during this time of trying to shake off ITB syndrome, is when I believe I began to learn not just more about the sport of endurance running but about what I believe God wanted me to learn.

Stay tuned for more on the journey...


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