Be Different

Be Different BannerHey everyone, Merry Christmas! You know, I just dropped my son off at school and there are two things that I often tell him just before he gets out of my truck. Number one, I always tell him to “Tell someone about Jesus today”. It’s my conviction that we just can’t tell our kids that enough. But there’s something else that I also tell him on a regular basis.

Be Different.

You know I’m wearing a Run for God shirt about 90% of the time, and when I’m not, people notice. They notice that the Run for God guy is not wearing his normal attire and many times they’ll even make comments to me. But there’s a lesson to be learned here.

Just like people notice a difference ABOUT me when I’m not wearing a Run for God shirt, they should also notice a difference IN me because I’m a child of God. My words, my actions, my attitude, and my LIFE should all point to the fact that I DON’T reflect this world, but rather JESUS.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Bottom line, as children of God, we are CALLED to be different.

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope your week goes well. Love on your family, love on your friends, don’t eat too much, Run for God, tell someone about Jesus, and be different!

Mitchell

If you would like to learn more about how to know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, please visit our Peace with God page at www.RunforGod.com/PeacewithGod.

The Thing About Iron

Fe symbol 26 material for Iron chemical element

Hello everyone, Mitchell Hollis here with Run for God. I want to start this blog off by making a few statements. First, I am not a medical doctor, nor any other kind of doctor. I’ve never been to medical school, and I do not claim to know much about the human body. This blog is not meant to diagnose anyone of anything, but rather tell you of my experience. Should you need medical advice, please contact your physician.

Now that all of the disclaimers are out of the way, let me tell you about why I’m writing a blog on the subject of Iron and Ferritin.

I have a 14-year old son named Lane Hollis. Lane in many ways is your typical freshman high schooler. He attends public school, makes good grades, plays the guitar, and loves hanging out with his friends. But there is one thing that is not so typical about Lane. He’s a very focused nationally ranked triathlete who trains 15-20 hours per week and has some pretty lofty long-term goals. He runs a mid-17 5K, and his current PR in the mile is 4:56. He’s also experiencing that dramatic change every young man experiences when their voice changes and they seem to grow 6-inches over night. With this background let me explain what happened.

On September 1 of this year, I showed up to Lane’s cross-country practice just like any other day. As Lane walked into the area where we all meet for practice, I could tell that something was wrong. He walked up to me and said that he did not feel good. Now let me stop right there and say, Lane is almost never sick, he never complains, and he’s always ready for a good practice. So when he told me he didn’t feel good, there was no question at all that something was wrong.

We immediately left the practice and walked in to our local family care physician to get him checked out. Lane was pale, weak, and fell asleep in the waiting room. My first thought was the flu or some other random bug that kids pickup this time of year. After a few minutes we were able to see the doctor and after she checked his temperature we found that he had a 101.9 fever. That would explain why he felt as though a truck had hit him, but what caused the fever?

After she had checked for the flu, strep throat, and ran a urine sample she came back into the room somewhat puzzled. Everything came back negative. He didn’t have any of those things. She indicated that he may just be fighting off something and he’d be better in a few days. Sure enough, by Sunday he was back to what seemed like normal, at least until he showed up for XC practice on Monday.

On Monday following his fever, Lane showed up to XC ready to go. Lane came into the season as one of the top runners as a freshman and was ready to start this season off right! As soon as Lane started running his warm-up, he knew there was something wrong. He couldn’t get his legs to work! He said that he felt fine, nothing hurt, but he was having a hard time holding an 8:30 pace. Lane’s slow zone at the time was 7:00-7:30. He finished practice frustrated, but not too worried. We assumed that the fever he had on Friday must have taken more out of him than we thought. Tuesday and Wednesday was the same story and it was Wednesday afternoon when I realized we needed to head back to the doctor. I made an appointment for Thursday afternoon, and let his coach know that we would not be at practice.

On Thursday, I picked Lane up from school and once again he stated that he felt great. By this point I’m thinking that something else is going on and the fever may have just been a coincidence? As we met once again with his doctor I asked if we could get some blood work to see if there was any kind of imbalance. I had read about athletes, especially female athletes, who had performance problems due to low iron. Right away, he sent Lane back to the lab for a CBC (Complete Blood Count). The doctor told me that he’d give me a call later that afternoon with the results. This is it! I just knew this was going to be the problem. I got the call later that afternoon, but it wasn’t the call I was hoping for. Everything was normal. It’s strange to say that I was disappointed with a normal result, but we knew something was wrong, and once again we hit a dead end.

On Friday and Saturday Lane’s run only seemed to get worse. You could tell by looking at him run that something was very wrong. He almost seemed uncoordinated and it looked as though he had trouble just putting one foot in front of the other. On Monday, his XC coach (a great friend and coworker), and I were talking about what might be going on. We’d been to the doctor twice and everything was normal, maybe it’s just that he’s going through a growth spurt? Lane had grown a couple of inches in a short period of time.

I’ve coached triathletes for many years now and I’ve seen the effects that growing can have on kids. Their body awareness gets out of wack, and they’re just not aware of how tall they are getting which can spell big trouble when it comes to running efficiently. That must be it, so we went with it. For the next two weeks, we backed Lanes volume down and had him do other workouts when the rest of the team was doing speed. High intensity and growing quickly in many cases can lead to injuries and we just wanted to let Lane get through this.

Asking Lane to run less than everyone and not run hard is like asking a basketball player not to dribble the ball. It just didn’t make sense, and if it did, he was not happy about it. One day at XC practice almost a month since he first had his fever, I could see that this was getting to Lane. He was upset, which in turn made me upset. Something just didn’t feel right! He had grown, but not that much! And if it was a growth spurt that was leading to coordination issues then why were we not able to see it anywhere else? If it’s that bad, then it should be at least a little noticeable just walking around while not exercising. It wasn’t.

That evening I got on the phone with a coaching friend of mine out of Des Moines, Iowa, Jenny Weber. Jenny is a high-performance triathlon coach and the head coach of Z3, which is a high-performance team that Lane is a member of. I began to tell her about what was going on with Lane. She listened and said, “It’s his Ferritin”. There was no hesitation. I knew Ferritin had something to do with Iron and I told her that his CBC, which does check for iron, came back normal. Jenny calmly ensured me that a CBC does check hemoglobin, which is the iron-containing protein in the blood that carries iron and oxygen to cells, but it does not check for ferritin, which indicates the amount of iron stored in the body, almost like your iron reserve tank.

It all made sense, but I still wasn’t getting my hopes up. That night I read article after article about this very thing, and how low ferritin would affect athletes in exactly the same way that it was affecting Lane. But why didn’t anyone tell us this? Why didn’t anyone explain the difference between hemoglobin and ferritin? Why did the doctors miss this? Because while this condition is very common in young endurance athletes (some estimates are as high as 40%), it’s very uncommon with the average active young person. The average active young person is not training at the volume and intensity as Lane and many of his peers are. This is exactly why someone who coaches athletes such as Lane was able to quickly point this out when doctors didn’t.

Needless to say, Lane was happy to get his blood drawn once again the next morning for a specific ferritin test. Unfortunately we would not get the results until Friday and this was only Wednesday. For the next two days we were on pins and needles. We stuck to our plan of low volume, low intensity, and as much as I wanted to go ahead and get him on an iron supplement, I didn’t.

Friday, the call came in and it was the news we wanted. Lane’s ferritin was extremely low. What a relief! Crazy right? I’ve never been so excited to hear that something was wrong with one of my children. It was because we had an answer. We knew what the problem was and now we could work to fix it.

The “normal” range for ferritin in a young athlete such as Lane is 70-300. Lane’s was 11. That Friday afternoon Lane skipped XC to get a crash course on how to manage your iron naturally as well as to find out a supplement regimen for his iron deficiency.   We decided on 65mg of iron with vitamin C twice a day until his levels are back to normal.

So what caused the fever a month ago? We’re not real sure, but I have read that in some cases low ferritin can lead to infection, which would explain the fever.

So what caused the low ferritin? Again, I’m not sure, but I assume that when you couple the fact that Lane trains year round with the fact that he’s currently growing like a weed, deficiencies are going to occur.

There are still some questions that may never be answered, but there’s one thing for sure. The solution worked. Lane took his supplement on Friday afternoon, two on Saturday, and raced the final triathlon of his season on Sunday. He was back to the old Lane, claiming second overall against a strong field of athletes two and three times his age.

One thing I found during this 4 weeks of not knowing what was going on with my child is that answers were hard to find. Reading clinical studies, visiting the doctors office three different times, and conducting trial and error experiments that only lead to dead ends was not the easiest route. I only wish I had read Lane’s story that someone else had written from the very start. My hope is that this story will find its way to those who are searching for the same answers as me.

Please share!

To Win. Or to help a brother?

“By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

If you don’t’ follow the sport of triathlon, then you may not have seen what took place this past Sunday in Cozumel, Mexico during the final moments of the World Championships.

Alistair and Johnny Brownlee from Great Britain are two forces that must be reckoned with if you want to claim a top spot in the sport of Olympic distance triathlon. These two brothers claimed gold and silver at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but it’s what they did this past weekend that has the whole world talking.

While competing at the ITU World Championships in Cozumel, both brothers were beginning to set the stage for yet another one-two finish. Johnny had a comfortable lead as he approached the finish line while his brother was battling it out for second place just behind him. With 1K to go, things went south for Johnny. His body began to shut down in dramatic fashion as a stumbled to the side of the course only meters from the finish.

Johnny appeared to be done. He looked dazed, and a podium finish seemed to be disappearing. It was at this moment that his brother Alistair rounded the corner on his way to what would now be a gold medal when he noticed Johnny standing to the side of the course. To everyone’s sheer amazement Alistair also stopped as his gold medal chances ran buy him. He put his brothers arm around his neck and all but dragged him to the finish line. As if that were not enough, as they approached the finish line, he pushed his brother to the finish ahead of him.

Today, you see the images and pictures all over the Internet. Alistair is being called a hero, which in my eyes he is. It’s a teachable moment for athletes of all ages all over the world. Here is a guy who sacrificed his own aspirations for another brother.

Could this be a living picture of 1 John 3:16? Now I do not know the spiritual well being of Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee, but I do know this, Alistair showed sacrificial love for his brother. He showed a side of humanity the Christ calls us to put on display daily. He showed that when your brother is down, you help them up, not run past them. He showed us that real love is an act of giving ones self even at a cost.

Thank you Brownlee Brothers for not only being a shining example of sportsmanship, but for showing how we can all live 1 John 3:16 lives.

Watch the dramatic finish of the 2016 ITU World Championships HERE.

The Truth About Salvation

Do you know that you know if you died today where you would spend eternity?

Today more than ever our lives are inundated with distractions, and more specifically distractions that take us away from the question posed above. It seems as though everyone wants to know what we think, what we feel, what we would do, or how we would react. I’ve noticed that many news outlets will post a picture or quote of a politically charged nature and simply ask the question “What do you think?” It doesn’t take long until the gloves are off and people are in an all out argument (to put it mildly) about where they stand on the issue, or how they feel. Many times this is done in the name of “A Healthy Debate”.

What good does this do for us as a society? Many will say that we should debate the issues, but many times a debate is the last thing it turns into. So who’s at fault? I submit that everyone who is involved in these distractions is, and that includes me, because I have fallen into these traps many times.

When speaking to those around us, we SHOULD be concerned with the answer to the question that I first posed. WHY? Because Jesus tells us all throughout the New Testament to love. In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 says that even if we are all knowing, without love we are NOTHING! Let’s just go ahead and take a look at 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The Bible tells us that the Greatest Gift is love and the Great Commission is to share the Gospel and to make disciples of all nations. So if we are to follow the Great Commission using the Greatest Gift, then we are to lovingly point people to Jesus Christ, PERIOD! I cannot find anywhere in the scripture where Jesus tells us to have a “Healthy Debate”. Stop debating, stop calling names, stop the finger pointing, stop saying what you think or how you feel, AND START LOVING. Can this be tough at times? You bet! Should we take to Facebook because we don’t like what someone said, and “let them have it”? No way!

Let me attempt to get back on point. When prayerfully considered, and done with a sincere heart, asking the question “Do you know that you know if you died today, where you would spend eternity” is the greatest way to enact the Great Commission using the Greatest Gift. In fact, let me ask you this question.

Do YOU know that you know if you died today, where you would spend eternity?

Lets breakdown the three answers that you will get from this question. Depending on whom you are asking, you may get a variety of colorful reactions. But many times you will only get one of three answers, “Yes, No, or I Don’t Know”.

Yes

Don’t get excited too quickly. If the answer is yes, then the follow up questions where and why should be asked. If the answer is “Yes, I’m going to Heaven because I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and I have a personal relationship with Him” then things are looking good, but we’re not excited just yet.

No or I Don’t Know

I would submit that “No and I Don’t Know” would fall into the same category, and that category would be “No, I do not know where I am going”. At least here, you know where a person stands. They are acknowledging that they do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior because of the simple fact that they’re unsure of where they’ll spend eternity. You either KNOW or YOU DON’T. At this point, we are able to explain to this person, if they are willing to listen, what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ and to walk them through the plan of salvation.

Yes*

Yes*, is for those whose convictions or lack of convictions may not line up with their words. Notice I didn’t say, “Actions may not line up with their words”, but rather “Convictions”.

You can’t determine where someone stands eternally based solely on his or her actions. If that were the case, we’d all be headed to hell, because we ALL sin! And many times, this is where the debates begin. “My sin is no worse than your sin”, “You can’t judge me, because you sin too”, and the debates, or might I say distractions, go on and on.

Now I’m not going to get into the specifics of what’s sin and what’s not sin because the Bible is very clear on that answer. Simply put, it’s any thing that does not please God.

So we’ve determined that your answer may be Yes*, and we’ve determined that sin is sin, and we all do it. So the next question I would pose is:

Do you wake up each morning convicted of the sin in your life and with a desire to please God?

Jesus said in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10), “Blessed are those who mourn” and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”.

If you are a child of God, If you know that you will spend eternity in Heaven, and, If you know that you have a genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ, THEN YOU WILL AGONIZE OVER YOUR SIN AND HAVE A DESIRE TO PLEASE GOD DAILY! If this is not the case, meaning you don’t mourn over your sin AND strive to please God daily, then you really need to take a hard look at your salvation because you are riding a very dangerous train. It’s one that says, “I’m headed to Heaven” but in reality is headed straight for Hell.

Let me give an example.

An area that many people struggle with in their life is lust. I think we can all agree that lust would be considered a sin, and often the root of many other sins (James 1:14-15). I think we can also all agree that most Christians and Non-Christians struggle with this sin at some point in their life. So does the fact that I, as a Christian, have struggled with lust mean that I am not a child of God. Of course not! But I also know that each time it happens I am convicted of it, I ask God to forgive me for it, and I do everything in my power not to let it happen again. This means taking myself out of situations where it can happen, not watching shows that cause it to happen, and asking God everyday to protect my eyes from the things that will cause me to stumble. I wake up every morning convicted of my sin and with the genuine desire to please God.

Now let’s say that I were to struggle in the area of lust and were not convicted each time that it occurred. In fact, I defended my right to look at the opposite sex however I like, citing that everyone sins and this one is no different. I mean, it’s not like I’m killing anyone, right?

This is exactly where much of the church is today. People sitting in the pews each Sunday and hanging their hat on a prayer they said years ago. Their life revolves around them, they’ve embraced a sinful lifestyle (all in the name of rights), and they have absolutely no conviction of the Holy Spirit or desire to please the Creator of the universe! THEY ARE LOST. There is a fundamental flaw in our society today that says you can “Hunger and thirst for righteousness” without “Mourning over our sin” or simply put, you can desire to be like Jesus without worrying about your sin. They are correct, we can do that, but we would be severely misguided and LOST!

If you are a child of God, you WILL NOT be comfortable in your sin!

I encourage you to think about our first question. If you are 100% confident that you will be spending eternity with Jesus Christ, then praise God. If you are not 100% positive that you will spend eternity in Heaven, then I encourage you to get on your knees right now and talk to God. He’s there, the door is open, all you have to do is acknowledge that it’s your sin that separates you from God and ask Him to become Lord of your life.

I hope you understand that my motive here is to tell you the truth out of love. Nothing else.

Mitchell

P.S.

If you’ve made a decision as a result of this blog, please let us know at CustomerService@RunforGod.com. We’d love to send you some materials to walk you through the next steps in your new life in Christ!  You can also reach out to The Billy Graham Prayer Hotline from 8:30AM – 11:00PM EST at 1-877-247-2426.

Run for God – Devotions

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Below is an excerpt from Run for Gods – Devotions. Formatting will be different in actual book.

Week 18

Run the Race God Has Set Before You

One Sunday morning during the meet and greet time at church, two ladies commented on my upbeat personality. One woman said that I am always so bubbly, and another said that I always smile. I didn’t have time to tell them that I don’t always wake up that way. Some days I have to talk myself into that smile. I also have to remind myself daily to be grateful for all I have and force myself not to dwell on things I don’t need.

Every morning, I mentally prepare myself to face the world. I hit snooze a few times. I get up, go into the bathroom, and look at the scared person staring at me in the mirror. I make breakfast and pack lunch for my son and myself, but during this whole process, I am in prayer. If you were sitting in my kitchen watching me, you might think I was doing what any normal mom does as a morning routine. If you were to look closer though, you would see that I was quietly talking.

I give my fear and anxiety over to God. Jesus says I don’t have to carry that burden, so I try not to. I thank God for the food I am preparing, the home we live in, the little boy laughing at cartoons in the other room, the heat, electricity, and the most basic of things that I take for granted every day. By the time I am ready to walk out the door, all of the worldly junk that fills my mind has finally been cleared. When I get to my porch, I am able to greet my neighbors with a smile.

Most people don’t understand how I can be so positive all the time. It is simple. I choose not to worry about what I can’t control. I choose to give the negativity, illness, worry, and stress in my life over to God, but I didn’t learn to do that on my own.

In January 2013, my sister convinced me to join a local Run for God 5K challenge. Scared and worried about embarrassing myself, I agreed to try it. I ran track in junior high and high school, and I was so bad my parents begged me to quit at the end of my freshman season. Run for God was not what I expected at all. Everyone was so warm and friendly. The program is tailored to reach people of all faith levels and fitness levels, and God did what God does. He met me where I was and carried me to the finish line.

The Run for God class prepared me to begin a journey back to God. Each week I read the story and listened to people’s responses to the discussion questions, and I thought, “Why am I so angry all the time? I have a good life in spite of being a single mom. I have enough money for all the things my son and I need, a wonderful family, and a good job. Why can’t I just be happy?” During week three of our Run for God class, the discussion was titled “Running Your Own Race: Running the Race God Has Set before You.” I knew then that it wasn’t my sister who led me to the class, but God.

My sister is extremely athletic. She runs much faster than I do, but when we trained together for the 5K, she never left my side. She pushed me through each work out, running beside me step by step. She refused to allow me to quit or fail. A week before our race, the words “run your own race” rattled around in my head. My sister would have stayed with me through the whole course if I had wanted her to, but I decided it was time for me to trust God and let Him carry me to the finish line. I told her to go run her race, meet her time goals, and I would run mine.

I was scared out of my mind when the gun went off, but I turned on my mp3 player and went on my way. I became discouraged in the first half mile because I felt as if hundreds of people were passing me. I knew I had to change my focal point, so I concentrated on my breathing and paced myself to the beat of the music. Around the one-mile marker, I started seeing the leaders of the race looping back. I passed people from my RFG group as they headed back to the finish line. They were over half way done with the race and I had at least a mile ahead of me. They were throwing me high five’s and yelling, “Good job!” I felt overwhelmed by their love. God was showing His love through them.

My sister’s house is about half way through the course, and when I reached it, I cried. My son was sitting in the front yard with my mom. He yelled and waved a sign that read “GO MOMMY!” It took about 300 feet for me to pull myself back together, but I picked up the pace and started the loop back. As my music carried me, I felt a second surge of energy take me into the last mile. Then I saw my sister, who had already crossed the finish line, running toward me. She ran the last mile with me, encouraging me to stay strong. She stepped off to the side about 200 feet from the end, and in the photo of me crossing the finish line, you can see her in the background with her hands around her mouth, yelling at the top of her lungs.

Faith and God’s great love carried me through that race. Run for God taught me that anything is possible with God on my side and faith in my heart. I smile and have a happy heart today, because I am running God’s race.

In Galatians, Paul says they are focused on the wrong things. Christ gave them a mission. He has given each of us a mission. I had to run a 5K to realize my mission, and now that I am running my race, I don’t plan to ever look back. Every morning I wake up, praise God, and ask Him to show me what path I need to run. Without Him, I would be lost on the trail.

Katie Hendricks – Carrollton, OH

Get In The Word

Galatians 5:7–8

You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Scripture Memorization

Write out the scripture(s) in the space below and recite them ten times.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Something to Ponder

What are you withholding from God? What burdens do you carry that you should give up to Him?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and allowed God to carry you through your fears?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Do you spend time with God each day, asking Him about your mission in order to avoid allowing Satan a foothold for distraction?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Running Observations by Dean

Thank the Volunteers

Races are great fun! It doesn’t matter if it is a local race with 100 participants or a party moving down Peachtree Street in Atlanta called “The Peachtree Road Race.” There are mud runs, color runs, and foam runs. Some races are plotted through downtown areas, some through the woods. Some have tons of awards; some are no-frills. There are 5Ks, 100 milers, triathlons, and duathlons. There is a race for everyone. Whether a race requires a lot of planning or only needs someone to draw a line in the dirt, they all have one thing in common—volunteers.

Many volunteers are runners themselves and understand what you are going through as you run. Many of them get up early on Saturday mornings to help their community or the race’s charitable beneficiary: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or ROTC for example. Almost any race that takes place on the roads will employ the services of the local police department, and although they may be paid for their services, they usually volunteer to do the work.

Race directors have a huge responsibility to bring their event together for everyone to enjoy. Have you ever wondered how the portable toilets show up for the event? Yes, the race director has to pay attention to every detail, and at most events they have curve balls thrown at them all day long. They must make decisions quickly, because more questions are coming in another three minutes. Usually when I want to talk to the race director on race morning, I have to wait in line.

On race day, those who hand out drinks, tell you where to turn, and protect you from traffic have put love and time into their roles under a director’s supervision in order to give you a great experience. If you are not one who already tells the volunteers how much you appreciate them, tell someone the next time you race. For most events, volunteering means giving up a day to a cause, and you are part of that cause. Remember that whenever something doesn’t go well for you. These people care about doing things right. I once ran a marathon and was going to receive the first place masters award. When they called out the winner, the time was fifteen minutes slower than my time. Imagine my shock. I calmly walked to the front to explain what had happened, and the race director sent me a trophy in the mail the next week. Problem solved, and I didn’t need to get upset about it.

Like a race, God has set up a course for us to follow. He is standing at the corners telling us which way to turn. He has aid stations along the way to help with any need. He waits for us at the finish line with something much better than a medal—everlasting life.

  • Races are full of volunteers trying to make your day the best it can be.
  • The volunteers really like hearing appreciation from participants, so thank everyone at your next event.
  • God wants us to run His course.  He said it would not be the easy course, but it will be worth the effort.

Order your full copy of Run for God’s – Devotions today at

www.RunforGod.com

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!

Mitchell

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