Spiritual Base

Slow RunningThis past week I began a forty-week training plan that will hopefully land me at the Chattanooga Ironman finish line in under twelve hours in just over nine months from now.  Training for an event like his is something that I have become very familiar with.  I have read about this kind of training, gotten formal education on this kind of training, been certified to coach this type training, and I have personally endured this kind of training.

The first thing you will learn about any kind of endurance training is that you must first establish a base.  Base is a period of time in your training that you will exercise at an intensity that will many times seem easy, monotonous, and just a waste of time.  So why do I say that it may seem to be a waste of time?  Because as athletes we have an inner desire to always do better, to push ourselves to the limit, and as runners, to just get faster.  Base work accomplishes none of this; at least that is what we athletes often think.

It has always been said that many runners never get faster because their hard days are not hard enough, and their slow days are not slow enough.  Many times, you will fall into one category or the other, but rarely into both.  Base work builds endurance and is the foundation for everything that your training is built on.  Sure you can go out and do speed work every day of the week, you can even do 100 meter sprint until your heart is pounding out of your chest, but without a base level of fitness you’ll find it very hard to complete a 5K or 10K, much less a half or full marathon.  I once read a study that talked about the fact that many NBA players will often run 4.5 to 6 miles in a game at high intensities with no problem, but ask those same players to run 6 miles straight and they’d find that to be a real challenge.  Why?  Because basketball players do not build a base level of fitness, nor do they need it.  They train those fast twitch muscles to do exactly what they are designed to do, go fast, and neglect those slow twitch endurance muscles.

Speed work is great!  It’s challenging, it pushes you outside your comfort zone, and it makes you a better runner.  But without a good base period even the best speed work plan will not be sustainable.  If you’re running an endurance race and all you’ve done is speed work in training, you WILL blow up, hit the wall, and crash and burn.

So let me get to the point that I set out to make.  Today I was running one of those dreaded Six Mile Low Intensity Zone 3 training runs.  For those of you who don’t understand what that is, just take your comfortable running pace and at about two minutes per mile to it.  It’s a slow run; it’s almost embarrassingly slow and I was having a battle in my mind as to whether or not I should speed up.  The runner in me wanted to pick up the pace to my “comfort zone” and not look like the turtle rolling down the side-walk, but the trainer in me was hammering home the point that base work is a must and without it this 140.6 mile race might end at 70.3 or sooner.

It was at this point that the Lord began speaking to me about my Spiritual Base.  Don’t you just love it when God takes a point that you are trying to make to yourself and uses it to make His point for where you may be spiritually?  He began to show me that just like I must have an athletic base when competing in endurance events; I must also have a spiritual base when competing in this earthly event called life.

Spiritual base is also very basic.  It’s spending time in prayer and in Gods word.  This is the base by which we should all build our spiritual lives.  If you’re like me, I love to read books or hear sermons on how to be more spiritually fit.  These are great resources and if Biblically grounded will definitely add to your spiritual toolbox and make you sharper.  But these resources are like speed work, they will make you more knowledgeable and for a lack of better words, more spiritually fit, but without a strong base, they are useless.  Hearing a great sermon or reading a great spiritual book and having a deep daily relationship with God is like sharpening the edge of an industrial size log splitter.  That log splitter has a base big enough to get the job done even with a dull edge, but having it razor-sharp only makes it easier.  Hearing that great sermon or reading that great book without a deep daily relationship with Christ is like sharpening the edge of a razor blade.  Yes, it’s very sharp, but when put to the test against an oak log, it will fail!

So I challenge you today to join me in building a spiritual base that will stand up to even the biggest hurdle.  Make prayer and spending time in Gods word the backbone of your spiritual life.  Yes, it’s OK to sharpen the edge, but only after the base can back it up.

God Bless Everyone!


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   John 1:1

Move out of your comfort zone.


Happy New Year Everyone!

I just wanted to sit down for a moment, look back on 2013, and share a few thoughts that have been on my mind.  This past year has been a great one for Run for God.  Thanks to your support and God’s AWESOME grace, we have continued to see tremendous growth.

As of today, Run for God has been taught in 49 of the 50 states (come on Connecticut), and 6 countries.  Nearly 1300 different churches, schools, and athletic clubs have walked through the Run for God Challenges with over 27,000 graduates.  This past year we’ve added some new programs, new products, new races, and even had the privilege of hiring some new faces.  Are things always perfect here at the Run for God shop?  Not even close!  Yes God is a perfect God, but I’m still Mitchell and I can certainly mess things up from time to time.  Some of you may remember the books with upside down pages, incorrect pages, or recently missing pages.  Yes, I occasionally make grammar mistakes, printing mistakes, and I’ve even been known to stick my foot in my mouth.  It’s a good thing God call’s workers, not perfect workers, or well-spoken workers, but workers.

So why do I keep such a close eye on these numbers?  Because it’s a very clear reminder that God is using this program to touch the lives of people all over the world.  If you’ve read the introduction of The 5K Challenge, you know that I was happy with 12 T-shirts, I was happy and content with teaching one class at my church, I was ready to go back to my “Building” career after our first graduation race.  Run for God is not something I went looking for, but it was something that the Lord laid on my heart and a decision had to be made, go or don’t go.

Early on, I said this would never work.  I felt unworthy; I mean who was I to lead a program like this?  I wasn’t an author, I’d never been to seminary, I wasn’t an Olympic Marathoner, I’m not even that good of a runner, although I do love it.  I had a million excuses as to why I couldn’t do this and none of them seem to slow God down.  Then one day it hit me!  I AM unworthy and unprepared, but maybe that’s exactly where God wants me.  At our moments of weakness, God WILL show His strength.

So why am I bringing all this up?  Because it seems that over the past year I have talked to so many people who relate to my story.  They feel the Lord pushing them to do something, something outside their comfort zone, but something just seems to be holding them back.  One gentleman told me this past year that he has felt the Lord calling him to start a Christian based workout gym, another lady shared with me her idea of a Christian Children’s book.  There were several others that shared great ideas with me, and more importantly they indicated they felt the Lord calling them to these ideas.  So why haven’t they acted?  Fear!  Fear is one of the devil’s best tools.  The ideas that I’m not good enough, that I’m not worthy, that it just won’t work, are all fear tactic’s.

Here is the bottom line.  If you truly feel the Lord calling you to do something, you’ve prayed about it, and aggressively sought His direction, and you know that you know, THEN DO IT!  It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, how good you are, or what your titles are, if God birthed the idea, go for it.  We will NEVER be good enough to do anything God sized, but God is, and that’s all that matters!

God Bless and Happy New Year Everyone!