We come into this world alone and we leave this world alone, but in almost every place in between on our personal timeline, we need our peeps! No, not those sugary marshmallow Easter treats! I’m talking about people – people to help us “run with perseverance the race marked out for us…without growing weary and losing heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
When my son was in high school, he was a strong runner on his cross country team. Because I watched many of his 3.5-mile races, I’ve learned a lot about what is takes to do well in an endurance race. He had a wonderful winning coach who gave each runner good instruction and encouragement. But the coach’s number one rule for running in training sessions and in races was this:
Stay with your pack!
Running with a group of other runners going at a similar pace was essential because it is unwise and potentially dangerous to try to run a race alone. Why?
Pacing - Go out too slow and you won’t be able to make up the time later in the race. Go out too fast and you will run out of energy before the end of the race. Staying with the pack helps everyone to run at a steady, sustainable and appropriate pace throughout the entire race. Runners encourage and hold each other accountable to keeping the pace.
Obstacles - Most cross country courses are in parks and so tree stumps, fallen tree branches and large rocks must be spotted and avoided. Tripping over one of these obstacles can add on unwanted time or take you out of the race completely. Runners watch out for and warn each other about obstacles.
Race Conditions – Cross country racing is done outside in the natural environment which can present difficult race conditions. Some courses have difficult terrain to navigate, such as a steep hill with a gravel path. Other races are run in unpleasant weather conditions – wind, rain or a day of blistering heat with no cloud or shade tree in sight. Running in a pack provides both a distraction and some encouragement when running in difficult race conditions.
Running a cross country race can be a grueling experience that you can see on the faces of the runners as they go by. In many ways, my son’s cross country races are not a lot different than the “race marked out for us” that sometimes also seems grueling. Many of the races we run in life are tough endurance races, as opposed to short quick sprints. Pacing is everything, overcoming obstacles is essential and navigating a difficult terrain or environment is common.
Wise King Solomon highlighted the benefits of running our race with others:
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
So, it is with good reason that we are instructed to:
…consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Is the race you are running feeling a little grueling today? If so, don’t be too surprised or too hard on yourself. But, most of all, remember that it is unwise and potentially dangerous to try to run it on your own.
Stay with your pack, partners and pals!
You are in an endurance race. You need others to help you keep your pace in check.
You will face obstacles. You need others to help you watch out for them and help you avoid them.
You are running in enemy territory that includes difficult terrain and hostile conditions. You need others to help you ignore the verbal taunts and extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy so you can successfully finish your race.
How about you? How is your race going? To cope is to deal effectively with something difficult. My son’s cross country races were difficult. Your race may be difficult too. One very effective and wise coping strategy is to stay with your pack!
Do you need to reach out to your pack, partners and pals?
Do you need to be a pack, partner or pal to someone else who is currently struggling?
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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