faith · Following Jesus · Grace · Running · Theology

Learning To Enjoy My Running

Regular readers will know that I’ve been trying to get a bit fitter by running the ‘Couch 2 5 k’ programme. When I finally got to running 30 minutes without stopping (which is an achievement for me, believe me), I got a bit obsessed with my times and really wanted to get below the average time for my age group. After a few weeks, I got my time down to around 35 minutes, with a consistent 7 minutes per km – goal achieved!

However … I wasn’t really enjoying the running. It was slog to be honest. I was always listening for the voice that would tell me that I had run another km, and how long it had taken. I was listening to some great music, but the run itself – well …

So for the last week or so, I’ve just set a timer on my phone for 40 minutes, and run until the timer bleeps. I’m listening to some podcasts instead of music, and finding that this is working really well. Not having the app on that tells me distance, and time, and time per km seems to have taken the pressure off so I can just enjoy the run.

And … (theme link coming up here) … I listened to a Nomad podcast with Rob Bell today and heard him say things that seem to be very timely. When I was working (especially when I was a vicar), there was a lot of energy trying to get better at things, to be more successful, to preach so well that the church would be full, to put on spiritual courses that would help people to transform their lives – etc etc. All with good intentions I think, but focused on the result that I was looking for as much as the energy I was putting into the particular project.

The thing is, we just can’t predict how people will respond. We can’t live by how much impact we have on other’s lives. We need to find a place where we can relax into what we’re doing, and just enjoy being ourselves.

It’s no good picturing myself as ‘another, better me’ further down the line. It’s enough to work out who we are. To go deeper into our own lives, To ask questions that will take us into new lands.

Rob Bell – ‘We can easily live our lives skimming over the surface … but in most conversations, we’re only one or two questions away from something really really interesting.’

So – back to running. What the last week is teaching me is that I can get the exercise, and enjoy it, if I’ll only relax – I don’t need the constant effort to get faster. Chill.

Grace and peace


Celebrating The 2020 London Marathon

Today is the cut down, but widespread London Marathon 2020. Cut down because the race as we know it is for elite athletes and wheelchair racers only. Widespread because 45,000 people will be taking part in a 24 hour virtual marathon.

Despite the disappointment for many who will have hoped to run in a ‘traditional’ marathon, there is surely encouragement here that the event is still taking place, although in a different format.

Covid-19 is making us all think outside the box, so that the things that we have enjoyed in the past can still take place in modified form, and maybe reach even wider audiences.

It’s appropriate that having finished the ‘Couch to 5K’ programme two days ago, today I ran my first ever 5k. Not on the level that others are running today – I would need to run my 5k about 8 times to cover a marathon distance ! Even so, a small achievement for me. I know that above all, I am benefitting from getting my heart pumping, and bit by bit, getting fitter.

Maybe this time next year, I might do what 45,000 runners are doing today – complete a marathon distance over 24 hours ?

Meanwhile, hats off to all those who will be raising millions of pounds for charity over the next 24 hours.