The act of running has given us many and different analogies for as long as running has been around. It makes sense. Running has been a part of nearly every culture. Many lessons have been taught and sermons have been preached using varying aspects of a race or the act of running to bolster a point. So, being the cross-country coach, I thought I would add to the tradition by using cross country as a metaphor.
There are many lessons to be learned from a race, but for now I want to talk about the lifestyle of a runner when they are not actually racing. A runner’s success is affected by what they do on off days. For instance, a runner gets a lucky day off of work on a Tuesday afternoon the week before a race. They have a choice. The runner could kick back, lounge on a sofa, grab a bag of hot Cheetos with lime, and turn on the news. Or, the runner could grab a healthy breakfast, tie up those running shoes, and head out for a run. These are somewhat extreme options, but you get the idea. This is not to say that the first option is a bad one. I, for one, love to watch a quick episode on Netflix or take a nap every once in a while. But the motivation behind the choice is important. Remember, this particular example takes place a couple of days before a race.
Some people can do well in a race even if they choose option one, the hot Cheetos. But if a runner chooses option one it points to their habits and their lifestyle. Given this same choice ten times, they might choose option one seven out of ten times. Their running lifestyle is not ideal and can even be toxic. Though this choice might not affect this particular race, it will affect races down the road. Their lifestyle, though on the surface it can seem maintainable, is not sustainable. The runner is on the road to a crash.
Much like the runner’s lifestyle affects their long-term running life, a person’s lifestyle will affect their life. For instance, a person gets a lucky day off of work one day during the week. This person has a choice of what to do with it. Option one: this person can kick back, lounge on a sofa, eat a few bags of hot Cheetos with lime, and binge on Netflix. Option two: go outside! Or, maybe, read a book. There are actually plenty of options that could fit into option two. The idea is that we can choose to be active, not necessarily physically active but, rather, mentally active, or we can choose to be lethargic. The lethargic lifestyle can still function, but, as with the toxic runner, this is not a healthy way to go. Once again, choosing option one, every once in a while, is not bad based on just the one choice. But when that choice represents your lifestyle is when it will lead to a crash.
Lifestyle is important. Certain aspects of our lifestyle affect how successful we are in our lives. Our lifestyle translates into how we operate in our jobs and how we act with our friends and even which friends we have. This is why it is important to have a good, healthy lifestyle. There are many types of lifestyles that are good, but there are also plenty of toxic and poisonous lifestyles. Some toxic lifestyles are still functional, people can live their life and work their job and spend time with their friends, while still not totally collapsing. This, however, is not ideal. It will lead to a crash.
For runners: what are we filling our bodies with? It should be water! How often do we practice or work out? Hopefully at least a couple of times a week!
For our life: What do we fill our time with? Reading, running (or some other physical activity), praying, studying, and much more! Who are the influences in our lives? Good people, and most importantly Jesus!
Many of you know this. Many of you are good at this already. I hope this is an encouragement to you to keep going. It is important to remember, for both cross country and for life in general, that, while the end is important, it is not the only thing that matters. How you get there is also important. Jesus has saved us! Hallelujah! Who are we going to be in response? How are we going to live our lives knowing that we are truly and deeply loved? Like the good runner’s lifestyle, let us train ourselves to better, healthy people. Loving God and living our lives for His glory.