24 February 2016

honor your pace

So I have carried this post around in my head for weeks.  And I have hesitated to type it up because I didn't want to write another post about running.  Truthfully, its not r-e-a-l-l-y about running, but the half-marathon is the backdrop.  I hope you'll hang with me even if running is the last thing on your agenda.  Ever.  Because I learned something humbling from this half-marathon + I think it might encourage you with whatever goals you set.  

As you know I set out to run a half-marathon in November, I printed a 12 week training plan and followed it pretty closely.  Then 10 weeks in to the training, I got weird + panicky and felt like I should set a finish-time-goal.  As if somehow running 13.1 miles all at once, for the first time ever was not a clear enough goal for myself.  

On race day, I completed my 13.1 miles.  Honestly, it was mostly magical.  Brad snapped this picture as I crossed the finish line.  You can see I was happy.

But this really weird thing happened when I found out my time.  I was a 1 minute 34 seconds behind my goal of finishing in 2 hours + 30 minutes.  And it really bothered me.  So much so that I told nearly everyone that asked me about the half.  This disappointment colored the whole experience.

Its weird to think that I ran 13.1 miles and ended up mad about a minute and thirty-four seconds.  Its like it wasn't good enough.  It got pretty awkward inside my head.  When I reflected on my run, it was so great, lots of joy.  Yet when I thought about my finish time, there was discontent.  I wanted to just move on from it, but God kept urging me to explore this space between the joy + the discontent.

As I prayed, this phrase about 'running well' kept coming to mind.  I knew it was a verse but didn't know where, and I wanted to find the context.

"You were running well.  Who prevented you from obeying the Truth?  This persuasion did not come from the One who calls you."  Galatians 5:7-8 HCSB

In reality, my novice half-marathon training plan didn't have any goal times or speed work. All along I just ran at a pace that was comfortable for me.  My goal was to run a half-marathon, but as race day approached I decided the goal should be to run a half-marathon in under 2 hours + 30 minutes.  It was a mistake.  I only added to the original goal because I thought "all the other runners" had finish-goal-times, and I should too.

As I reflected on this, I realized that we do this kind of thing ALL THE TIME in all different sorts of ways. We add to our goals to somehow make them more measurable -- a way to make ourselves measure up. At times, we even allow the enemy to influence these decisions.

Perhaps we set the goal that we want to eat dinner at home more frequently, so we make the meal plan and the grocery list and we cook three nights in a row.  Maybe the fourth night the brown rice is crunchy and kind of gross.  Rather than celebrate the first three nights, we focus on that dumb rice.  The goal was eating at home more frequently, but then we decide after-the-fact that the goal should've been to cook perfect meals every night.  And our joy withers.

Or maybe we branch out and launch a crafting group.  We plan the activity, we gather supplies, we invite some friends, we set the time.  And two people come.  Rather than celebrate that we took a brave step to host a craft group we feel badly that there were only two people.  The goal was the crafting group, but after-the-fact we decided that goal should've been 7 people showing up.  And we feel a little embarrassed.

We decide that we'll get all caught up on laundry Friday.  As each load finishes, we fold and put away, all day we are ON IT.  Then the littles wake up early from their naps.  So the last load stays in piles all over your bed until you are ready to fall into it at 10 pm.  {Look, 10 pm is late for me!} Rather than celebrate that the hamper is empty we fuss because we should've remembered to finish that load before 10pm.  And we get crabby.

Here's the thing, there isn't anything wrong with setting goals.  And its even OK to set specific, measurable goals.  The problem is when we should ourselves. We edit our goals in a way that leads to discontent even if we accomplish our original goal.  Perhaps the edits would be excellent in shaping our goals for the future, but setting that bar too high, too late can cause us to be hesitant to try again.

So let's stop.

Let's honor our own pace.  Let's accomplish the goals God has set before us, and not be distracted by the goals of those around us. Let's consider what He has called us to, and ask Him how we can bring Him the most glory in getting it done.  Let's stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and look at what He has done.  Let's celebrate the goals we reach as we adjust to reach further. Let's stop shoulding ourselves into places of discontent. Let's kick the joy-stealers to the curb and keep on running well.

1 comment:

  1. I love this Amanda. I am modeling goal setting for my grade nine students and I have really put myself out there in letting them know my intentions. It's a bit scary but I want them to see that sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail and that we are not defined by our failures. I also want them to see that we can overcome obstacles, no matter how great or small. I have been thinking of you lately as one of my goals is to finish the Couch to 5k program. I am two sessions in and am surprised that I don't hate running as much as I thought I did. I think that what you have done over the past few years is amazing, and not just in committing to running but in all the other things you do. You have such a wonderful heart and this post is lovely and encouraging. Here's to omitting the "shoulds" and the "can'ts" from our vocabularies! Congratulations on finishing your race at your own pace.