Sometimes my pride gets ahead of my common sense and I have to pay for it. This happened a few weeks ago when I committed one of the cardinal sins of being an older runner – I ran a 10K without being ready for it.
A group of staff and students from my school was participating and I’ll be honest to say I was showing off a little. Although I had been pretty regular with my weight lifting class and my legs felt strong, the route for the race was hilly and I was not in good shape. I pushed through, however, and actually shaved a few minutes off of my 10K time – but aggravated my IT band and now I’m in pain if I run.
Younger runners can “gut it out” at a race, but now that I’m closer to 60 than 50, I have to listen more closely to my body. In my mind I’m still in my 30’s, but my muscles and tendons remind me otherwise! As an older runner I have to remember to stop before I’m hurting and that I have to slowly build my mileage. If not, I end up sidelined, which is the opposite of what I want to be doing.
When I started training for a marathon many years ago, I had to learn to listen to what my body was telling me. My training partners and I followed a strict plan that slowly increased our mileage while adding in rest days. I found that the rest days were just as important as the hill repeats, speed sessions and long runs. Working out actually causes tears in our muscles and rest allows them to heal and become stronger. Finding the right balance between hard runs and recovery times is a challenge for athletes of any age, but especially us “master” and “grandmaster” runners. Of course I knew all of this before running the 10K, but my pride told me I could do it.
The same principles apply to my spiritual life. Pride comes along and tells me that I can get by on my own, that I don’t need time alone with God to build my “spiritual muscle.” And before long I do or say something stupid and set myself back. Just as I have to continually listen to what my body is saying, I have to work on hearing what my soul is telling me, and it is usually “Slow down and be still!” My spiritual muscle is built when I rest in God.
So it is a continual balancing act. The last few months have been busy with lots of good things, but my soul is telling me now that it needs some rest. Just as my body needs a break from pounding the pavement, my soul needs a break from people and deadlines and busyness. I’m blessed to work for the school system where I get extended time off and the opportunity to be quiet, spend time with God and listen for His voice. I had time at the beach last week with wonderful Christian friends and I was able to just bask in the beauty around me. My soul felt restored!
I often think about how Jesus had to get away from the crowds to be quiet, even letting people down who wanted something from Him. Even as the Son of God, He had to have time to hear what His Father was saying to Him.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”Mark 1:35-37
Can’t you feel Jesus’s exasperation trying to have a few private moments? Throughout the Gospels we see Him going off by Himself or with a few of the disciples to rest from the crowds pulling at Him. How much more do I need it!
For now I’m trying to recover from my injury by doing some exercises and walking and rolling away on my foam roller. The Peachtree Race is just a few weeks away and I need to be able to get up Cardiac Hill! But I’m working on my spiritual muscle also. Resting, sometimes translated waiting on the Lord, will be my strength.