Monday, June 11, 2007

Reflections from the Life of a Runner... Part I

"Every race
is not a P.R. Day,
yet everyday is key to having PR Days.
Consistency is the key!"

Every runner, on race day hopes to have a “PR Day.” PR stands for “personal record.” This means that you run the race faster than you have run it before, or at least for the present season. If a runner’s training is well planned, their times should progressively get faster and faster as the season continues. However, there are several factors that play into this happening or not. We will discuss some of these factors over the next couple of days and their application to spiritual formation

Though it has been stated that achieving a PR is a goal, there is much more that goes into a race than merely the finish-line. In fact, it is that “much more” that determines what happens at the finish-line and how fast one reaches it. Moreover, it is the practices and training times that precede the race that will ultimately determine what one is even capable of doing on Race Day.

Consistency is the key. In consistency, muscle memory is developed. When I was in college, during practice, I didn’t even need a watch to tell how long I had been running. With great accuracy, I could tell you how long I had been running, how far I had run, and at what pace (mph) I had been averaging. Several teammates and I used to make a game of this during practice. We would periodically ask, “how long have we been running?” and before another would look at their stopwatch, I would give an answer. Someone would then check their stopwatch and see the actual time.During the heat of training, I could usually get within 60 seconds of the actual time. How? Your body begins to develop what sports psychologist call “muscle memory.” My muscles could simply “feel” the pace we were running. I had timed myself at various paces so many times that my muscles learned what various paces felt like. (For example: 5:00 minute mile pace, 5:20 minute mile pace, 5:40 minute mile pace, etc.)

There is another side to the “muscle memory,” that also has direct applicability to our spirituality. Muscles begin to deteriorate within 72 hours of not being worked out. In other words, if one goes three days without working out, they will feel the digression when they hit the trails on that third day. This is why it is often advised to at least go for a 20:00 light run, even on the day after a big race. This is just enough to keep your muscles at strength, while allowing for them to rest and recuperate from the race.

After 72 hours, if one gets out of their training rhythm, training begins to be everything but enjoyable. It is always challenging once you get out of sync with your training rhythm. It’s hard, your mind fights going, your body resists, you would rather stay in bed!

It is the same with spiritual practices such as prayer, engaging Scripture, reflection, study, etc. Have you ever noticed, the more consistently you read, the more relevant, desirous, and applicable Scripture seems to your life? And, the less you read, and the more sporadic you read, the less and less Scripture seems to be relevant, desirous, and applicable to your life, as well as your current circumstances. It is the same with prayer. The more one prays, the more they become conditioned to hear the voice of God, His direction, and see His involvement in even the minuscule moments of the daily. There grows an expectancy and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s moving and involvement. However, when we get out of sync and don’t pray, prayer seems less and less significant, we are less expectant, less sensitive, and we begin to develop a greater dependence upon our selves and our own strength.

The daily is supremely significant to continual growth and spiritual formation. It is the daily that adequately prepares us for the day.

Consistency is the key?

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