Though I am not a runner, I run everywhere. I’m not sure this qualifies me to write about running, but I do have distance runners in my family and have gone to races. I would like to share some of my observations about running and a drink.
Let’s start with a marathon. There are those who train and run with purpose and passion; their objective? To win the race. There are those who aim to win among their own age group and gender; this helps keep the race competitive as the pack thins. Then there are those who run to accomplish a life goal, to be able to say they’ve run a marathon.
Runners come from all walks of life and age groups. They also come with a diversity of reasons for putting themselves through such a grueling task, yet they all have one common goal: to finish the race.
To help those participating, there are designated water stations set up all along the course. This way the runners can plan ahead for when they will get a drink. The competitive runners know how much water they need and at what point their body will begin to crave fluid. They also realize too much water will bog them down and not enough will cause them to cramp up. Even those in the best physical shape, who have done the maximum amount of training, still need hydration to remain strong throughout the race.
Another external factor that helps distance runners is the fans. Cheers! Good work, you can do it! You got this! Great job! Pace yourself and keep your head up! Etc. A side point here is that you don’t have to relate to the runner to cheer him or her on.
Now follow me to a 5K race. Although the distance is much shorter, there’s still a water station (at most races). The competitive runners at this distance will run right by without stopping. Yet those who are new to running or for those who might not be in the best shape are thankful for a cup of water. Again, cheers from fans are also helpful. These things are enough to keep them going and help them reach their goal, the finish line.
No matter how long–or how short–the race, it’s an accomplishment; not simply to participate but to finish to the best of one’s ability.
I equate running to life. We’re all at different places, with different strengths and abilities. We have different circumstances and different struggles. I’m sure most of us can tell stories of difficult times, things we’ve had to work through or overcome. Some of these challenges would be equivalent to running a marathon, grueling and long. Others are more like a 5K and usually manageable. However, sometimes smaller experiences – the ones that might not appear to be a big deal to some, especially to those who have gone through “harder” times – are still a challenge to the people going through them. They have to make up their minds, at that point, to conquer the circumstance and not allow it to cause them to stumble or quit.
Think about this for a second, though. What if that marathoner looked at the one who just struggled to finish a 5K and said, “You thought that was hard? I just ran a marathon.” Sure, a marathon is difficult, but at this moment – this season – a 5K is difficult for the other runner. A comment like that would simply downplay the struggle, making the runner feel like it shouldn’t be so hard, and possibly discourage them from continuing. A simple change in words could make all the difference. Remember, everyone has to “start” somewhere and no one starts by running a marathon! So for those of you who are strong – be an encourager, offer a drink of water to those who wish to join you but simply aren’t there yet.
The bottom line? There are times in all our lives when we need a refreshing drink of water. When we need someone to cheer us on. It can be as simple as a kind word, or an encouraging note from a friend or co-worker. Or it can be bigger; like a job offer or a good report from a doctor. Either way, things like this give us the boost we need to keep running. This doesn’t mean all our problems will go away or that the present challenge will suddenly be over, but every little bit of encouragement helps.
Feeling refreshed and/or having hope renewed is a powerful thing; it gives us strength to continue. As Ecclesiastes 9:11 tells us, “…The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” Even the strongest people can come up against unforeseen problems or set-backs and need help. There is no shame in that; just as the experienced marathon runners need to occasionally grab a cup of water or be reminded by the fans that they can do it, so do we! Let’s be willing to accept help when necessary and offer help when needed, so we can all finish our race well.