Long distance running can be as much a mental challenge as it is a physical test of your strength and fitness. I find that my body is willing to run longer, but it’s hard too keep going mentally. If you have ever trained for an endurance event, whether it be a half, full marathon or a triathlon, you know that endurance training is hard work. Your body aches and hurts. You experience pain in the most unusual places. Your mind plays tricks on you and you are emotionally and physically exhausted.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is painful and hard. Pushing past a mental block is extremely difficult. For me, the hardest times are pushing through long runs.
This happened to me Saturday. I was running towards mile 11 when I began questioning my quest. My feet and my playlist were on a continuous shuffle when all of a sudden the song changed to Third Day’s “Love Song.” It is our nature that we are blind and lame which makes us unfit to run a race. We run faster and find the strength to continue when Christ takes us by the hand. That is just what He did during that aching mile. The chorus of this song says:
Just to be with you, I’ve done everything
There’s no price I did not pay no
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away.
Just to be with you.
First thing to understand about this moment of strength is that the song is sung in first-person. Furthermore, it was like Jesus was speaking directly to me, reminding me of the fullness of His love. How He gave everything. He payed the highest price and gave His life for me because He loves me.
Psalm 119:32 says, “I will run when You shall enlarge my heart.” In the race set out before us, it’s the heart that matters. It is not lifting up the eyes or hands towards heaven, which forwards us in the race, it is the out-going of the heart. If you believe with your heart (Romans 10:9) and you love God with your heart (Matthew 22:37), this will bring a Christian speedily to the goal. When David’s heart was enlarged, then he ran.
God encourages us to run not only by promising rewards when we win, but by promising strength to enable us to run. In Ezekiel 36:26, 27, He promises He will put His Spirit within us so we can run and not be weary. “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah 8:10.
I can honestly say, from mile 11-14, the joy of the Lord was my strength and His Spirit was with me. I literally ran to His words through the song and found strength in Him. Let us continue to pray for the Holy Spirit, who animates us in the race, and carries us above our own strength. God’s Spirit breathed in us—keeps us in full breath for running the race!