I woke up this morning sore. all. over.
This week I decided to start training for a crazy obstacle race in December (more on that later). So on Wednesday I churned out a 4 mile run - my longest run ever - and yesterday I pushed my feeble limits in circuit training.
Today I rolled out of bed and my calves felt like rocks. I could barely make it across the room. As I struggled to get ready for my run I thought, Maybe I should just take the day off. Let my body recover. This whole week has been kind of exhausting in more ways than one.
Then that inner Voice said: "Just do it. You know that's the only way you will get stronger."
(Confirmation that God came up with that slogan before Nike did.)
It is true. That is the only way I will get stronger - training through the muscle soreness (other types of pain are a different story). It's because in the process of building and strengthening muscle there is the breaking and tearing of the fibers. It seems counter intuitive, but as with many things, the building up process only happens after the breaking down.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
Once the muscle has been ripped and torn, the body (in response to God's magnificent design) starts weaving new fibers and thickening existing ones. The muscle is repaired and made better than before.
Yes, many of the greatest things are only produced out of pain.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
So I do a longer warm-up than normal to loosen my legs and set out for my run. Just a 5K, I think, nothing hard, just run.
About five minutes into it my music cuts off. I wiggled out of my arm band, pull my phone out, reset my music player, and wiggled it back on. Wasting precious energy, I know. Ten seconds later, it shuts off again.
That's it, I think, I'm running 3 miles without it. Maybe I'll just pray.
Then I hear, "Just listen."
Listen to what? The birds, the cars wizzing by?
"Close." And I know God's speaking. "Listen to your body, pay attention to what you are doing."
"Listen to the cadence of your foot falls. Feel your feet strike the ground. Remember your training - you know how to step. Listen to your knees. You hear nothing - remember that I healed you and you've learned how to run to protect your joints. Pay attention."
Yes, thank You for healing me God. And thank You for giving me knowledge so I can run wisely. I look down at my feet to see where they land, trying to commit the image and feeling to muscle memory.
"Keep your head up high. Look straight ahead. Let your peripheral vision gauge what is going on around you but don't focus on it. See your goal and move toward it. I will take care of you."
We're not just talking about running now, are we? I remember the Proverbs:
Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet,and let all your ways be established. Proverbs 4:25-26
"Listen to your breathing. When your breaths are quick and shallow you weaken faster. Breathe deeply. Find a rhythm. Rest in me and remember your training."
I slow up, disappointed that I feel so worn and I'm pushing my lungs too much. I wonder if I started too fast again, and now I am going too slow.
"Stop thinking about how fast you are going. Just remember how to do it right. Pay attention to each movement and remember your training."
Now I'm certain God has turned my run into a parable. Because everything good on this earth is a shadow of His kingdom. The natural is an illustration of the supernatural.
And I am reminded that every day is an opportunity to be trained and practice my training. In everything - my walk with God, my marriage, my job, my ministry. I cannot just run out and do it just because I am excited and think I know how. There is the discipline of learning and constant practice of what is learned.
Then as I set myself to doing what is right, He will take care of me and guide me. Through perseverance, through discipline, He strengthens me.
I thank God for the lesson, for my music shutting off and the opportunity to listen. I hit the 3 mile mark and pick up speed at the joy of knowing I've almost completed my goal to run a 5K this morning.
Time doesn't matter, I think. It's just the joy of completing well.
3.1 shows up my sport watch and I hit the button to end my run. Then I see the unexpected.
I just ran my fastest 5K ever.
Thank You, my God, my Strength.