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Shot Of The Day

You'll Never Compete if You Don't Register for the Race

You'll Never Compete If You Don't Sign Up!

Lesson one in the marathon journey was profoundly simple. It was a sentence in the book I bought as the guide to marathon running. Fittingly, I bought a guidebook called “The Non-Runners Marathon Guide.” When I saw it at Barnes and Noble, the word “perfect” came into my mouth and involuntarily escaped. Nobody was there to hear it. Nobody except me. I was there trying to get my brain around how to approach the task of training for and then running 26.2 miles. How much do you run each day? How do you find a marathon? How do you run that far? Do you run that far before the actual day? I was trying to find a place to start when starting seemed harder than calculus or quantum physics. Have you ever been there? You want to do something or grow in an area or take the next step in your life but you have no idea where to start? Or how. Or whether this is just crazy [which it was, but I didn’t care… I needed to do this — more about that in future posts]. I wasn’t a real runner. Sure, I ran in high school. Not well. But it was a sport and I did it because, well… my mother made me. Thanks mom! [I mean it.] No, I wasn’t a runner last January when I started this journey. But I was a wanna be. Rarely able to go more than a mile or two without cardiac trauma, I tried to keep up with a schedule but never could — or perhaps “would” is a more vulnerable description. Not wanting to really delve too deeply into “why” it was so hard for me to stick to running, I decided to skip that painful analysis and jump right into “how” others had done it. Actually, I went to the book store to find Marathon Runners for Dummies, but apparently, even the Dummies series is too sophisticated for this quest. Running is easy enough to figure out, right? I mean, the Dummies book would read: Wake up. Put running shoes on. Run. Shower. Get on with your day. But it’s not that simple for most of us. Not for me anyway. So I decided to do whatever the book said. Oddly, one of the first things it tells you to do is to register for a marathon which is 18 weeks away from the day you start your training. Because, it said, you will never run if you don’t register. I tried to ignore this advice and start the training without registering, but I seemed to find every excuse in the book for not training. Feeding the dog, cleaning the grout in the kitchen, writing a book. There was no consequence if I didn’t run. There was no goal point. There was no finish line, just this vast open field of running which seemed overwhelming. When I did finally register, my feet hit the pavement like clock work. If I missed a day, I might miss the finish line. I had put some skin in the game. I had put my money down. I had a finish line in sight and something to reach for. I was on my way and the finish line was drawing me to it. Isn’t that just like life? Today’s picture reflects this truth. I look at these kids ready for competition. They’ve practiced. They’ve trained. They’ve perfected the march. They’re spit shined and buffed up. They’re ready. If they went to school week after week, day after day, year after year and played with no goal, no race, no competition, no deadline — they may never get excited, motivated, challenged. But they don’t just play with no end in mind. They play with a performance in their heart. With a vision of an audience in their minds. With a parent or a sibling or a coach smiling in the stands. They have something drawing them across the finish line. They have a finish line. I don’t know why vision is so important to the journey. But it is. It was a profoundly simple truth, but it was profoundly deep. Scripture says it this way…. “without vision the people will perish.” They will wander aimlessly. They will feel lost. If life is like a marathon, then certainly a vision of where we are going is essential to not getting lost. Or at least that seems to be the first lesson for me.

Posted: 12 March 2010