Day 33: How to Tackle Racing Thoughts

Well, today is the run. I wonder what the weather is like and how I’ll I feel this morning. When are they going to take down their Christmas wreath? Did I turn off the oven? I guess I’ll turn left at this corner. The landscaping crew didn’t blow off their lawn good. I sure wouldn’t pay for that. That is the second time I’ve seen that plumbers van. I guess I’ll go a different route today. My knee is feeling okay today. Yum, that fresh salsa was so good last night. Next time I’ll add black beans and fresh avocado. I started my watch, good. Maybe I’ll beat a record today. Hmm, not as cold as I thought it would be, maybe I’ll do another lap by the house and drop this off.

Ugh, why did I forget my iPod this morning? Why do I have all these lists stored in my head? This is the best use of my grey matter? Hey, no shin pain. I wonder how I can stretch the sides of my calves. Weird how those little pains come and go. I can’t believe how good I feel after my 20 mile run on Saturday. Love it. So let’s see, if I go 4 today and 12 on Saturday, that’ll be 33 for the week, so then an hour or so today and long on Saturday, and that’s a pretty good week. I love taper time. Here comes the lady walking her dog. It’s always so stressful who is going to give up the sidewalk. She always looks like she’s working so hard to get moving.

Maybe she thinks the same about me. Hmm, seems there’ll be a pit stop soon. “Never leave the house until the coffee has left you.” Short hill. Pick up the pace uphill. I should get back to doing my leg presses. Wow, that Espresso Gu leaves a strange aftertaste. No salsa tonight. “No soup for you!” I love that show and their bakery. I could definitely go for a bagel or a black and white cookie for breakfast. Maybe I’ll drop by that new bakery down the street. I gotta finish today’s Faithful Trainer devotional and check on mom and Kerry. I wonder how she likes her new Nike Free shoes. First mile marker coming up. Seems like I just left the house.

Exhausting huh? Does your mind wander when you run? Do you go through an entire checklist of the things you want to do or need to do? What do you think about when you’re running? What about prayers? Have you experimented with praying while running?

A study published in 2005 concluded that 47% of the people in the US pray every day or nearly every day. Maybe a sampling of runners would result in a higher percentage, as they tend to have significant chunks of solitary time separated from distractions, alone with their thoughts, and surrounded by nature.

Scripture makes a very strong case for prayer in the life of a believer. Jesus told us to pray. Luke 18:1 says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” We should pray simply because Jesus told us to and emphasized it in His life and teaching. There really is no better reason to pray then this.

Prayer is the way by which God helps us to overcome our anxiety and worry. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.”

During my running, I have had many days where my racing thoughts have consumed me and I longed for the quietness. Do you remember the movie “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson? He had this amazing gift to hear a woman’s thoughts. Well the only thoughts he couldn’t hear was his dingy assistants’ thoughts. I wish I had days when my mind was clear, but I do love when I have days in which I experience beautiful emotional and powerful moments of prayer. I remember one specific moment when I left the house for a long distance run that I had been praying deeply for my friends, family and relationships who who were experiencing sickness and pain. When I had finished praying, I looked up and was in awe at a magnificent display of God’s hand in nature. My eyes swelled up with tears of happiness for observing creation and gratitude for God’s blessings and provisions. It is so comforting to know that God always hears our prayers.

I am a faithful runner who hits the road at least four times a week. For the last 19 weeks, I have been training for a marathon this March. I cannot imagine how I would have completed the training, or the race itself, without my running conversations and devotions with God. I was reminded of the movie Chariots of Fire, when Eric Liddell declares in his Scottish accent, “When I run, I run fast, and I feel God’s pleasure!” For me, when I run, I run slowly, but I also feel God’s pleasure.

I believe God created us to run and we feel the happiness that he intended for us when we fulfill that part of our purpose. When we choose to engage Him in prayer during our run we might achieve an even higher state of happiness. Especially in our spiritual race.

Today and many other times when I run, I think I hear footsteps coming up behind me – a plausible assumption given my speed. When I turn around I don’t see anyone. I assume that the sound results from the echo of my footsteps bouncing off the houses, amplified by the damp air of dawn, but I like to think that it’s actually the sound of God running by my side. He is a silent running partner, waiting for me to engage him in conversation.

Take him up on his offer. Say a prayer during your next run and witness the results.

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19