I Ran a Marathon. You Totally Can.

12 years ago, I had a few problems. I was faced with the responsibilities of marriage, fatherhood, and work. And as much as I tried to do my best in these areas, I just couldn’t figure out why life wasn’t going my way. I wanted to have steady income and be successful as an artist and a musician. It wasn’t happening. And everyone around me suffered.

I was in emotional turmoil, behaving badly at work. I was difficult to be around. People were walking on eggs around me. And it was at that time that my boss and mentor recommended to me that I get exercise. I scoffed at him. What good would exercise do? I needed money, and I needed someone to give my band a record deal, not to do jumping jacks. But were those things what I really needed or even wanted?

What I really needed to do was be a good steward of what was already given to me. I needed to recognize the value that I already had and serve others with it. I needed to set myself up for my future. And instead, I was wasteful. I wasted time, I wasted money, I wasted good ideas, and I wasted my health.

At a certain point, I realized that if I kept on this path it would cost me. My marriage, my family, and well, basically everything. Don’t get me wrong, I had good intentions. I was trying to do the right thing. But I was still choosing to put myself above others. And this was my problem – plain old childishness.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11 NKJV

And only when I finally realized this true cost, did I finally make true change.

It all starts with one run

Although true change comes from the heart, the heart is shown in the actions. One of those actions was to care for my body. So I did the unthinkable – I woke up one day in the summer of 2013 and went running. How far did I run? Not far. But I couldn’t stand it anymore that another day would go by without me rising early and intentionally to greet it.

And then something amazing happened – I got up the next day and ran again. Then I ran the day after that. Sure I missed days here and there, but from then on, I was a runner. Fast forward two years, and I set myself a goal to run a full marathon. This last week that goal was achieved.

…But this isn’t about running marathons. It’s about being good stewards of our bodies, and setting physical goals for ourselves. Maybe you’re not ready for a marathon. But you’re as ready as you’re ever going to be to take charge of your body, and to set realistic goals for your physical development.

I encourage you to tackle your physical development first thing in the morning, you’ll be facing a day in which you’ve already done the hard work. It feels great, and equips you to respond to the circumstances that arise.

Finding your “why”

Here are some reasons why I chose a physical goal of running a marathon:

God’s promise:

The Bible tells the story of Caleb, who had the same strength at age 85 that he had at age 40.

…here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength… – Joshua 14:10b,11 

When I read this, my first thought was: in what kind of shape will I be in when I’m 40? My goal is to be in my best physical shape – cardio, strength training, diet, and sleep – by the age of 40. So that this kind of healthy living will be preserved for later on in life.

Are you over 40? You’re hardly exempt from the joys and trials of physical development. Rich Roll went from coach potato to ultra-marathon runner after he turned 40.

My heart’s desire:

We all want things. We all have dreams. Sometimes we write them off as silly dreams, sometimes we give up on our dreams. I have a dream to skateboard at a professional level. I thought that this dream might go away over time, as year after year I haven’t pursued this dream wholeheartedly. But you know what I found? The dream doesn’t go away at all – if anything, it gets stronger. I want to be physically fit – stamina, bone strength – so that I can continue to pursue skateboarding into my 40s. Sound far-fetched? 51-year-old pro skater Lance Mountain recently treated us to a nice video part he did for Nike.

Civil responsibility:

I live in a city. There are things the city does to call its citizens to action for some pursuit or another. It’s easy just to stay in your own bubble, and not get out to the local cultural events. But this municipal call to action is also a challenge. They are challenging the residents of this city to a test of physical endurance. I want to be able to respond to the city’s challenge. I want the municipality to know that as far as this resident goes – I can take it (by God’s grace).

Can you run a marathon?

Marathon or not, you can make physical development goals and work towards them. You can position yourself to be able to handle physical challenges as a leader and as a healthy resident of your city.

8 tips for setting physical goals:

  1. A good place to start is 30 minutes of cardio 3 days a week. Just get your body moving, and get your heart pumping a little faster than normal. Nothing like a nice jog for that.
  2. Do it first thing in the morning. Preferably before dawn. There’s nothing like tackling a daily physical goal before the rest of the world wakes up.
  3. Use a tracking system. Be it apps, or crossing off days on a calendar, use something to measure progress. I use the Nike running app – many people think it requires a special kind of shoes, it doesn’t.
  4. Share your goal with those closest to you – like your spouse. Be accountable to them for your progress.
  5. And as Michael Hyatt says – push your goals just a little bit out of your comfort zone. The first race I participated in, I ran 10k. The second race was 21k. This year I did 42k – the full marathon.
  6. Set a goal to be in the shape you want to be for the rest of your life.
  7. Define what you dream to do, and set yourself to be up for it physically.
  8. Look for physical challenges in your community, neighborhood, and city. Showing up is an encouragement to others as well. If I can do it – you can do it. And if you can do it – they can do it.

Remember, you are in control of how you use your body. Have you given control of your body over to your circumstances? Have you embraced unhealthy habits just to get through another day? If so, then I’m challenging you to take back control. All it takes is one action, like going out for a run. And it feels great.

What are your physical goals for this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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