"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's not 100% 'mental', just 99.9%!

From as far back as I can recall, and well before I even thought of being a runner, the one consistent bit of advice that I most associated with a marathon was, "you have to remember that it is a mental thing more than a physical one."  This was often associated with hitting that infamous "wall" or with staying focused for the entire course. Whenever I would hear this I would think that this wall must be like trying to run through bricks and due to the intimidation it presented you had to control the mind games that it could create.

Fast forward to post-marathon running.  I have yet to hit that no good wall.  In fact, I am more and more a believer that it might just be a result of poor preparation and / or poor race day management.  BUT ....... I do believe running a marathon is a mental challenge that you have to be ready to undertake when you sign up.  And I'm not talking about race day.  As I am now within 4 weeks of kicking off another official training cycle, I am starting to recall the challenges from my previous experiences and those that fill the pages of any good marathon 'how to' manual. 

First, consider that the 18 week journey that lies before you, will likely require 89 runs and between 600 - 700 miles.  For a first timer that can seem like a daunting task in and of itself.  Plus, as each run builds on the previous one, there is little room for missing a single workout.  Now, think about the 100 +/- actual exercise events during those 126 days, (remember that one of the days off is a rest day, while the other should be cross training), and that's a mountain of sweaty clothes, day upon day of multiple showers and a tanker truck full of Powerade and GU!

If you can work through those non-running logistics, you will face the running ones. I've always said the most surprising part of marathon training is that the running really didn't take a lot of time, but that's only because many workouts started at 5:00 a.m. and some treadmill runs started near midnight.  And I can't tell you how many times I said, "no dessert tonight, long run tomorrow" (that's a killer!).  I also always found myself thinking several workouts ahead in order to be at the right place with the right gear, especially during travel.  Starting to get the picture?

The good news is that ANYONE can manage the physical demands of training your body for distance running.  My goodness, think about the Biggest Loser participants completing a marathon.  The trick really is managing the mental demands of maintaining discipline around training and flexibility around your schedule. The good news to that is, as with most of our behavior, it quickly becomes habit after a few weeks.   Do that and you will have a great experience. Do that and you will win the mental game.  Do that and you might even get to the finish and say to yourself, "WOW, I guess they forgot to put the wall out on the course today!

Make it a great day!


  1. Hi David! I saw your blog posted on the Run For God website. God is so good because I needed to stumble upon your words of encouragement and words of wisdom. I am in my last week leading up to the Rock 'n Roll San Diego Marathon. I am running it to try and qualify for the 2012 Boston Marathon. The scriptures and stories on here have been an inspiration. Thanks! I believe in godincidences not coincidences. This is one. Keep up the great work and running! Also, I led a RFG Bible study for ladies and God showed up! It was awesome! I also sign off with "make it a blessed day!". God is good!

  2. Good stuff. Makes me ready to start training again. The one point that I would add is that despite the challenges that you have pointed out, a definite upside is that you sleep like a baby throughout! Thanks.

  3. thenextmailboxboston,

    Thank you very much for your kind words and timely (Godincidence) comment. Not only is it great to read of your experience with the RFG group and your personal marathon training, but equally gratifying was the encouragement it provided me to pursue the program here locally and to know that you received a a little extra boost of scriptural inspiration through the blogsite.

    I started the site upon return of the Disney marathon this year. I felt extremely convicted that the gift of health, ability and desire, (which, by the way, I love the fact that you are thankful for the desire to run - very truly a gift that should be used to His glory), was leading to a more lasting purpose or service. Additionally, I was challenged by a book I was reading to create a blog on something that I was truly passionate about and keep it for 30 days.

    Anyway, here we are three months later. I have found it to provide personal accountability, deeper meditation and more balance. If He allows the site to provide these similar attributes to others, even if in just a very small and passing way, that makes it all worthwhile.

    Finally, your run is going to be outstanding. You're well prepared, your half already has you projected at sub 3:50 and San Diego just makes everyone run faster. I wish you the best and am hopeful you make someone's day along the way.

    Make it a great day and keep 'Running with Horses!'