Run the race with endurance

I ran another race today after 6 years of being on hiatus.

I have been reviving the hobbies that I used to have when I was younger and one of those is running. Last month, I had been thinking of running a race again so I searched for running events near me and luckily, Gatorade had an upcoming half-marathon. I registered for the 10K and convinced one of my friends to join me in the fun (or hardship :P).

I’m not very athletic, but I enjoy playing sports. I loved running around as a kid, so I participated in sports that involved running, such as track and field, basketball, football, and just recently, tennis. There’s something about running that makes me feel “free and carefree,” yet it also challenges my character, especially when the distance gets longer.

My first 10K run took place during the Nike We Run: Manila women’s run in 2015. I was mainly motivated by the free t-shirts I would receive. I didn’t train, so I barely made it in 2 hours (my record is 1 hour and 45 minutes). Because of this, I committed to running short to medium-distance races so I could improve, until I stopped in 2018.

Fast forward to 2024 and I’m back to running. My goal was to finish today’s 10K run in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Did I train beforehand? Not consistently, but I thought I was doing enough workouts to build up my stamina and endurance. I was partially nervous because my body is certainly not the same as it was 6 years ago and I didn’t want to injure myself from pushing too hard, not to mention I only had 3 hours of sleep. The protein shake, energy gels and tons of hydration would help me but I can’t fully depend on them, so I kept the goal in mind that whatever happens, I will reach the finish line.

Waiting for gun start at 4:30

I followed the 1:15:00 pacers until I lost track of them around 6K. I knew I kicked it off well and quickly, but gradually I started feeling heavy. Now and then I speed-walked to regain my energy, but thoughts of, “You’re supposed to be running not walking, what about your goal?” came flooding in and I felt like I was already left behind. Surely I can finish this but, will I still reach my goal?

Mindset is a crucial factor when facing any challenge, whether it is in sports or life matters. Today’s run served as a reminder that the Christian journey is very much like running a race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)

To run a race well (a literal race and the Christian race), we must:

  1. Prepare
    If I want to complete a medium to long-distance run without passing out, I need to prepare myself in all aspects (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) and do it consistently. Training conditions us to bear varying difficulties as we progress. If we are always training in easy mode, we will not grow or reach our full potential. And if we rush and train in hard mode without mastering the beginner-intermediate levels, we will get frustrated then eventually give up. Don’t go too slow that you don’t reach your milestone, but don’t go too fast that you miss properly building the foundations. Prepare in whatever season you are in so that when the race day comes, you are well-equipped.
  2. Throw off anything that hinders
    I couldn’t throw my annoying bag because my necessities were there, but it did slow me down since it was a burden to have to readjust every time it slid off. I found a way to carry it better thankfully, but the lesson is, if anything stops you from reaching your goal (e.g. unnecessary baggage, anxiety, anger, any sin that’s not confessed), throw it away. Sin will only entangle you and make it harder to reach the finish line. It will stop you from fulfilling the purpose that God has set out for you. So we should confess all sins to Him, because He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He can use our sins for good purposes if we are sorry for it and seek His forgiveness. Isn’t it easier and freeing to run the race without anything holding us back?
  3. Run with endurance
    Barely halfway I thought I still had a long way to go and my legs started feeling like jelly. It was tough that the finish line is not yet in sight. I felt a bit discouraged, but transforming these thoughts to, “You will make it! You have made it this far, don’t look back. Keep going! Run the race well. Finish well. The prize and goal are soon in sight. You won’t run forever. Run by faith, not by sight!” helped me focus on the race and not on my worries.

    The Greek word the Bible used for “endurance” is hupomonē and the verb “to endure” is “hupomenō“, which means having the power to withstand hardship or stress bravely and calmly (reference). It is expected that we will encounter trials in life – no one is exempt from this – but a mark of a strong character and faith is being able to endure them no matter what, to keep pushing through with joy, because we have the assurance that there is a great reward waiting for us at the end (which is in point 4 below). There will be moments where you might stumble from weakness or distraction; walk when you have to, take some rest in between to regain strength and energy, but remember to get back into it!
  4. Fix our eyes on Jesus
    Running a race isn’t easy. Even elite runners encounter setbacks. Throughout the event, I was running, walking, and praying my way until the end. I looked up at the sky while running in order to forget the distance that I’m running or how exhausted I’m feeling. Doing this helped me persevere. Before I knew it, I reached the finish line and received my medal.

    When we fix our eyes on ourselves, people or circumstances, we will be disappointed or depressed. Everything and everyone in the world is fallible and subject to sin, so even a good or harmless thing can easily destroy us. But when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the only one perfect and eternal, we are constantly given the joy, peace, comfort and strength (and a lot more good things!) to endure life’s challenging race. To fix our eyes on Jesus means to put Him in the center of our lives, to have faith on who He is and what He can do. With Jesus at the center, difficulties will still come but we will overcome because we are anchored at the One who loves us, who saved us, who will not let us perish, and who provides all that we need to face each day. This way the problems become smaller because Jesus becomes bigger in our sight. May Jesus be the hope that we carry whenever we face difficulties. Trials and problems are temporary, but Jesus our reward and rewarder is forever. And He’s cheering for us and running along with us so that we can make it to the finish line! (Do you want to know more about Jesus? Check this out or send me a message!)

Praise God that my friend and I made it before the 2-hour mark! In retrospect, I think I finished well and I caught myself smiling for most of the run despite the exhaustion. Even though I did not meet my goal of 1:15:00, I still completed the race before 1:30:00 so I’m very happy about that! I am looking forward to the next run and beating my record. Until then, I’m going to prepare and continue fixing my eyes on Christ. 🙂

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