I have found that training and running for longer distances that sometimes my body will tell me to stop. Even through moments when I feel my muscles ache, my desire to run farther are looming over me. I think we have all felt this one time or another. We have so much going on and yet we struggle with not being able to do more or achieve more.
If I have learned anything my months of training that pacing is extremely important. Pacing is defined by “turning into your body and setting a steady, consistent rate of speed you can hold for a period of time.” Whether you have a fast pace to work your aerobic capacity or a slow steady pace to build endurance depends on the ultimate goal of your workout.
I’m generally right there in the middle, with the exception of yesterday’s run. I was scheduled for a 16 mile run to beef up my training to prepare for a marathon in March. It was a very gloomy day with storms in the forecast, so I waited until I saw a break in the clouds. During long runs, I usually run a long loop, which is a little over 5 miles. I had just completed two loops, dropped by the house to grab a banana and some water, and then headed out to run the last loop, when I noticed some dark clouds above me. Before I left, I asked my husband to come get me if the weather proceeded to get worse. I was determined to not have a storm come between me finishing my goal. I was almost done.
I was a little past 11 miles when I saw a bolt of lightning strike in the distance to my right. I looked for a clearing in the sky and ran in that direction. Of course by now, with the thunder was roaring in the sky above me and my pace picked up a notch. I was probably running my record average pace in my game of Nike+. This was not my goal and definitely not my average pace. I was in panic mode. My legs were aching and my heart was pounding. My plans changed. My new goal was to try to beat the speed of the storm now hovering over me. Who was I kidding? That didn’t stop me from trying.
When I was young, I use to run with my dad at the Jeff State track. If anyone knows the area or history of that track, they would know that a lot of runners were killed by lightning. Something I vowed I would never chance. I used to wonder, “who in their right mind would run during a potential storm.” I started asking myself the exact same question. “What am I doing? Have I lost my mind?” The memory of those runners began to haunt me and fear swept over me. I knew I was running out of time.
At last I reached the house and made it into the door just in time to meet the biggest storm we’ve had in months. Even after I was safe, I found myself frustrated that I was unable to finish. It was after the words came from my wise husband, “there is always tomorrow” that I realized maybe God wanted me to pace myself.
Interesting that the word “pace” originated from Latin and literally means “in peace.” I think that once we discover our comfortable pace, we achieve a sense of peace. Sometimes when we cannot find peace, we can get fearful, in a hurry or overwhelmed. We may even lash out at God or those that we love. (Or the weather, lol.) So, how do we get in the right pace and become peaceful? Where do we start?
The bible says in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Conventional wisdom can easily blind us into running the wrong race at the wrong pace. God’s wisdom counsels us in Hebrew 12:1, to run the race marked out for us in spite of all the opposition and discouragement we face. In order to run with perseverance, we need to understand our personal pace. Discovering the pace God has gifted you with will help you guide you on your path through uncertainty.
During hard times may mean that we need to speed up our pace to keep up with the pace to keep up with the demands of the moment, at other times, we need to slow down and allow change to occur at an almost unperceivable rate. In either extreme, the flow of change can easily take us off our nature God-given pace the rate at which God designed us to move through life.
What’s important is not whether we are fast or slow, but how we run the race. If we are too fast, we have a tendency to run ahead of God and if we are slow, we tend to lag behind God’s pace. Remember pace isn’t a matter of how fast or slow you’re going, but your rate of progress and manner of running as you journey through life. God has uniquely marked out a race for you to run. He desires that you grow with every twist, turn and fork on the path. Use every change and new circumstances you face to recalibrate your pace to run the race. Find the place He has for you and follow with the pace His providence dictates. At every step, move in the grace He has extended to each and every one of us.