“. . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Even though I was listed on the roster as a bona fide member of my high school’s varsity track team, I’m not sure I contributed much other than being a warm body who showed up for practice. Too slow for the hundred-yard dash, not coordinated enough to run hurdles, jump high, or pole-vault, and not strong enough to throw the shotput, the coach had few options except to enter me in long-distance races. Unfortunately, I did not do well in them either.
Yet, in adult life I became an avid runner and have remained so for thirty-five years, an exercise I practice several days a week, although more cautiously and slowly as I have grown older and my joints more vulnerable to injury. And I should also hasten to say I have never been a particularly competitive runner, nor have I ever run marathons, 5k’s and 10k’s being the extent of my participation in races. Still, I do wear a stopwatch when I run to time myself, so in a way I guess I compete against myself. But my purpose in running has mostly been an endeavor to maintain weight and overall good health, nothing more, and so far that has served me well.
What I have learned about running, both from the high school track team and as an adult runner, is that there is a vast difference between training for a sprint, like a hundred-yard dash, and training for a long-distance run like a 10k or a marathon; for it means little to a distance runner if he covers the first hundred yards in ten seconds. While speed is a great asset in many sports, for long-distance runners it is the ability to stick with it mile after mile that counts. Steadfastness, not simply short-term fastness, determines the winner. Or as that smart-aleck hare learned the hard way when he challenged the tortoise to a race in Aesop’s renowned fable, “slow and steady wins the race.”
The older I get the more I recognize the similarities between distance running and a life well lived. Yes, having the ability to run fast serves us well at times, especially in those early years of starting a career or raising a young family. But ultimately, life is a distance run not a sprint, where steadfastness and endurance far outweigh speed in determining the winners. So, “. . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”