My Keys to Success

I’ve been on a mission during the last several weeks/months, and it’s been an exciting one for me. God has been teaching me so much . . . not just in running . . . but in life itself.

The first thing God is teaching me is to set goals for myself. My goal with running is to run at least one 5K outside in less than 40 minutes by the end of this year. So far, my average has been around 42 minutes. A few weeks ago, I started setting a weekly goal of getting below 42 minutes. I’m still running three times per week and strength training at the gym twice a week. The first week after I set that goal of 42 minutes, I ran a 5K in 41:59! I met my goal by ONE SECOND!! I’m sure you can tell that I was beyond elated. The second week, I ran the same distance . . . outside . . . in 40:47. I’ve still got some work to do, but I am so close. With God’s help, I know I can do it. I’m also learning to set attainable goals for myself in other areas. In order to do that, I make lists of things I want to accomplish each day. When those things are done, I check them off of my list. Making lists helps me to avoid procrastination.

The second thing I am learning is the importance of sharing my story with other people. I recently met a couple whose baby was born with severe clubbed feet just like mine. I shared with the young father some of the things I experienced while growing up. I encouraged him by saying that even though my experiences were not a walk in the park, I am living proof that his child will be okay. I also told him I started training to run 5Ks, and the look on his face was priceless!! You may not have clubbed feet, but whatever you have faced in life, think of all you have learned from it, and thank God every day for the things He has taught you. Don’t be afraid to share your story with others. All of us are survivors of something. There is someone in this world who needs to hear what we have to say. We may not know who that person is; only God knows that. All we can do is to share what we’ve learned each time the opportunity presents itself. We never know how we may be able to help someone else.

The last thing I am learning as a Christian is the importance of sharing God’s Story. If God thought His Story was important enough to share with us in a Book that has been in existence for over 2,000 years in multiple languages worldwide . . . and not just any Book . . . but His Word . . . the Bible, how can we not share His love and compassion with everyone we meet? Sharing God’s Story does not mean shouting it from a pulpit or yelling it from a street corner. It doesn’t mean just wearing a cross around your neck. It means reaching out to neighbors or friends in need. It means being faithful and dedicated in your job. It means encouraging your coworkers in any way you can. It means not getting involved in gossip or anything else that tears others down. It means asking God and others to forgive you when you know you’ve done wrong. It means doing what you can to live out your faith before your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers so that they can see God’s love in and through you. We don’t have to announce our faith in God over a loudspeaker. Others will see it if we remain faithful to His Word.

The keys for success I’ve mentioned are not a magical “cure-all” formula that will automatically make life easier. We will all face hardships of some kind until the day we die. It’s what we do with those hardships that makes all the difference.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!! Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!!

The Right Equipment

I had an epiphany this week. It was what I call another “yes I can” moment. I’ve been trying to find alternatives to running outside during drastically inclement weather. I found when I tried to use MapMyRun while using the indoor track at my gym that my GPS did not work properly; therefore, my time and distance was always off. The last time I tried to run on a treadmill, the only kind of exercise shoes I had were Skechers. They were great for walking (although not for long periods like my current job requires), but HORRIBLE for running! I was also still having a lot more trouble with balance at the time. I was afraid that I had broken an ankle since I felt like a joint was out of place. As much money as my parents spent to have my clubbed feet corrected, there was no way on earth that I was going to intentionally do anything to reverse that. Therefore, I stuck to either walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical . . . until I really got serious about training myself to run.

I want you to pay attention to the photo at the top of this post . . . not so much the time or distance, but what it says at the top . . . “Treadmill, Run”! Once I switched to Hoka One shoes with orthotic inserts and stayed faithful at my strength training and core exercises, I found that I can run on a treadmill without damaging my body or falling off of the machine. It’s all in using the right equipment that is suited for us. If our exercise clothing/equipment doesn’t fit right, we could seriously injure ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to be fitted for shoes and to work with a trainer who knows what he/she is doing.

As Christians, we also need the right armor to be effective witnesses for God. When King David was just a boy attempting to fight the giant Goliath, King Saul tried to allow David to use his armor. I Samuel 17:38-39 says, “And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” When David tried to use Saul’s armour, he knew the pieces did not fit him. There was no way he could conquer Goliath with the wrong equipment.

Before I started training to run, I felt so inadequate and unsure of myself. One of the things I learned is that I just needed the right shoes. Once I went with my Hokas and really got serious about training, I felt free . . . free in the knowledge that I can do this; free in knowing that I am not in competition with anyone else; free in knowing that it does not matter how fast or how slow I run, but what matters is that I run, and that I complete my race.

Instead of choosing Saul’s armour, all David needed was a small sling and five smooth stones to complete his task. Once he had the right tools, he was able to approach Goliath with the assurance that God would protect him.

As Christians, we sometimes may feel inadequate or not intelligent enough to share the love of God with others. We may feel like we do not have the right to share Christ’s love with others if we don’t have a PhD in theology or if we are not making a six-figure salary. If there is one thing I want my readers to get from this post, it’s that the only two things any of us need to share the love of God are these: 1) experiencing God’s love, and 2) God’s Word itself. If you have never experienced God’s love to begin with, how can you expect to share it with others? I urge you to read the books of Isaiah and John. Allow the words to saturate your heart and mind so that when you feel like temptation is squeezing the life out of you, the only thing that oozes out of you is the radiance of God Himself! Readers, we can complete this race called life . . . successfully! All we need is the right equipment.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!

My Finite Mind; God’s Infinite Wisdom

So many changes have occurred in my life during the past few weeks. Necessary changes to my work schedule have affected my daily eating schedule as well as my sleep pattern in a good way. It’s taken me this long to update my blog as a result!

When changes occur, sometimes it’s easy for us to lose focus and wonder if we will ever accomplish what we set out to do. God continues to show me every day that He is the One Who accomplishes in me what He chooses to do, and He does it in His Way and His Time. For instance, my running and gym schedules have changed as a result of the change in my work schedule. I wasn’t sure how my running was going to be affected (see the photo above . . . one of my best running times yet), and my weight leveled off for a while as well. As Christians, we are to remain faithful to what God has for us. The same goes for fitness and weight loss. I am determined to do whatever is necessary to get all of my workouts in each week. I have knocked off over a minute and a half of running time, and I finally lost another pound this week.

I love it when God whispers in my ear, “Just sit back and watch Me work.” As Christians, we have to remember that our understanding about life is finite; it is limited to only what we have seen and experienced. It is very easy for us to make judgments based only on what we see in front of us. However, God’s understanding and wisdom is infinite!! His wisdom covers everything!

Going back to my theme in previous posts of “can” and “cannot”, the next Bible verse which includes the word “can” falls under the category of God’s infinite power.

The story of Abraham has always been interesting to me. In Genesis 12, God commanded Abraham to leave his current dwelling and to follow wherever God said to go. God had promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of him, and “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” With a promise like that from God, one would think Abraham would have known to trust God at His Word. However, the subsequent verses tell us otherwise. Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands. Instead of trusting in God’s infinite wisdom, Abraham followed his own finite thinking. He decided to tell Pharaoh that Sarai . . . who was Abraham’s wife . . . was his sister! Abraham was so fearful of what Pharaoh would do if he knew Sarai was his wife that he chose to lie about it. He hadn’t considered the fact that his lie could have caused his own wife and Pharaoh to sin against God . . . not to mention the curse it would have brought to the Egyptian people! When Pharaoh forced Abraham and his entire family out from Egypt, they returned to their homeland of Bethel. Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew, went one way. Abraham went the other. The interesting thing is that the direction Abraham chose was less pleasing to the eye. Most people, only trusting in their finite thinking, would not choose the direction that Abraham did. However, God in His infinite wisdom had other plans. Genesis 13:15-16 says, “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” Notice how God did not give all of the details regarding how He was going to give the land to Abraham. He simply said that a great nation would come from him, and that the land would also be given.

God tells me every day that He will help me . . . whether it be in my running, my job, or whatever situation I am facing. He doesn’t provide the details right away . . . not because He’s trying to keep me in the dark about everything . . . but because He wants me to trust Him for everything. If I am running races for myself and trusting only in myself for protection, everything I am doing is in vain because it is done for the wrong reason. However, if I am running races to help me become a better and healthier servant for God, and if I am truly trusting in His infinite wisdom instead of my limited understanding, only then will I fully understand the joy of “sitting back and watching [God] work”!

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!

Back in the Groove . . . With a New Perspective

This week has been all about slowly getting back to a new sense of normal. It feels great to return to my running routine. I didn’t pack any exercise clothes when Mother and I evacuated from Hurricane Florence since we only thought we would be gone for a few days. I was also unfamiliar with the terrain where we were staying, and there was a lot of mental and emotional unsettlement going in inside me regardless of what I did to try to ease my mind.

One thing I have learned to do as a Christian is to ask God what He wants to teach me every day. I ask Him daily to show me areas in my life that need to change, and to do whatever is necessary to make those changes. One of the areas God has shown me that I need to change is in the area of self-centeredness. When Mother and I returned home a few weeks ago, I began to notice all of the devastation from people whose houses flooded just five minutes down the road from my house. It made me start to think outside of my box. I started to ask myself what I could do to try to help others. As a single woman in my fifties with no children, I’ve always enjoyed the freedom of doing whatever I choose without having to consider anyone else. As enjoyable as that sounds, that’s not how God intended for us to live our lives. As Christians, we are to live in such a way that will point others to Christ and encourage them in their walk with God. That does not mean that we have to stand over them and beat them on the head with a Bible. It means that everything we do should be others-focused in order to influence our communities and our world for God. We must find ways to reach out to others, and make an effort to do what we can to help them. If we never step outside of our comfort zone, we will never experience the joy of making a real difference in someone else’s life!

I am definitely staying on my running/health/weight loss journey, but it’s with a new perspective. I’m not just doing it for myself. I have reached out to friends and family in my community to join me on a run or workout. So far, I have one partner, and I’m working on a few others who have expressed interest. My running partner even dubbed me as her “coach” a few days ago. I never really considered myself as a coach before since I’m not a fitness expert. I have many fond memories of my high school coach though. He always did little things to encourage all of his students and coworkers. He would walk up behind us in the hallway and say he was “behind” us 100%!! We used to laugh at that, but deep down, I always knew what he meant. That was his way of saying he was praying for, encouraging, and supporting all of us. I guess I am a “coach” to some degree too, because I know what has been working for me with health and fitness, and I am trying to encourage others to do whatever is necessary to reach their optimum health as well. That’s what coaches do . . . they instruct, encourage, and inspire!! My running partner and I use our time not only to run, but we encourage and pray for each other. The way I see it, the better the health I’m in and the more I take care of the body God gave to me, the more chance I will have to be a productive servant to God, my family, friends, and my community.

I Corinthians 6:19 & 20 says, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”. I believe those verses not only apply to godly living, but to a healthy lifestyle as well. If we truly see our bodies as God’s temples, we will be a lot more conscientious about what goes inside our bodies as well as how we use our bodies to serve and encourage others in our communities.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!!

Staying Fierce, Focused, and Moving Forward

If you read my post “Things I Have Learned” from a few weeks ago, you know the frustration I felt after my third race. I was not focused at all, and I was aimlessly trying to improve my speed without having a plan. My head was everywhere except for where it should have been . . . in the race!!

Going back to my idea of proving to myself that I am physically able to do anything with God’s help (see my earlier posts), I proved it to myself at least twice last week. Since my cousin and I have gotten into a routine with Map My Run, I wanted to test my strategy in another official race. I went online to see if there were any local upcoming races, and I found one that was held last Saturday morning at 8:30. I work a night shift on Fridays each week, so I wasn’t sure I could handle running a 5K that morning. After talking with one of my coworkers who also runs lots of races, I decided to go for it.

On race day, I was determined to remain focused unlike the last time. I also had a plan. The first item on my agenda was to make sure I found the tent where we were starting (see my last post). I was given directions the day before when I picked up my registration packet, and I found it with no problems. The next item on my agenda was to remember to pull up Map My Run to keep track of my progress during the race. When the race started, I just followed the same routine I did during my workouts. I kept checking my app from time to time, and I had a really good feeling. My goal was to knock off a few seconds from my best race time which was 48:55. When I looked at the clock while crossing the finish line, it said 46:55!! Not only did I run a 5K after finishing a 12-hour night shift, but I also turned in my best race time to date, and I did it with two severe clubbed feet . . . talk about fierce!!

As Christians, we cannot wander aimlessly through life and expect to accomplish anything. We’ve got to know what we’re after (stay fierce), have a plan (stay focused), and daily work toward our goal (move forward). I love what Paul said in I Corinthians 9:24-27:

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

When God has clearly given us a calling, we must stay fierce and be determined to do whatever it takes to accomplish that calling. We must stay focused on the plan, and keep moving forward no matter what happens along the way.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!!

Balance Is the Key

I mentioned in an earlier post that I never learned how to crawl when I was a baby. That may not seem like a significant thing to many adults, but what most people don’t realize is that crawling affects so many other areas in a child’s physical development. The main areas that were affected in my development were coordination and balance.

Since I’ve started training myself as a long-distance runner, my trainers Megan and Chelsea have been teaching me various stretches and strength training exercises to help protect my joints, and to ultimately increase my running speed. When I first started out, I had to hold on to a table or chair to balance myself when doing the step lunges. I’ve now done the TRX single leg squats during my last four visits to the gym. When I did my lunges before my run this morning, I hardly wobbled at all. What’s more, I only had to reach out once to balance myself!!

There are certain things all of us have to do to make sure we have the right balance so that our health is maintained . . . a balanced diet according to our individual needs, or musculoskeletal balance to protect our physical framework. If developmental stages are missed early on, we must learn to compensate for whatever is missing. If something gets out of line later in life, we must do whatever is necessary to get back on track so that we can continue to live healthy lives for as long as God chooses to leave us here on earth.

We have to have balance in our spiritual lives as well. We must make time for Bible study and prayer.

Psalm 63:1&2 says, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

“To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.”

Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

God also expects us to take care of the things He has entrusted us with. We must make time for housecleaning so that things don’t get piled up. I’ve never been a “neat freak”, but I am gradually improving in my organization skills. Every person operates differently when it comes to organization. Some people have to work a little harder at it than others. Imagine what would’ve happened if Adam had not properly named or cared for the animals in the Garden of Eden or if Noah had not prepared his family and tended to the animals on the ark??!!

I hear so many people say that they don’t have time for so-and-so. We make time for things that are important to us. If we daily make time for God, our families, our job responsibilities, and ourselves, we will find that our lives will be much more balanced than if we just let things go. If we have let things go, we need to take steps to get back on track so that we can live happier lives.

Until next time, let’s keep on running!!