Last time I ran a marathon I had a time goal in mind. I did this even though Hal Higdon, the marathon guru of all time, said not to think about time. Just think about finishing.
Nope, not me. I had a goal and I obsessed over my time while training and during the marathon. Constantly I was doing the math, finding out my miles per hour, figuring out to the second how much time I could walk and still maintain my average.
I put so much pressure on myself to run that race in that time I nearly gave myself a heart attack. Once I realized in the marathon I wouldn’t hit my goal, my whole soul and body collapsed under me. I have never felt what I felt that dreadful day. It was very sad. You should be weeping.
I know you’re not weeping. Old ladies were consoling me, patting me on the back while I sobbed on the side of the road. It was humility and defeat as I had never experienced it before. Soul crushing. You should be weeping.
You’re probably still not weeping, but that only demonstrates the hardness of your own heart. Amen.
Anyway, running to win is tough. It’s easier not to. More fun. More relaxed.
But running to win is kind of what a runner is trying to do. The reason Hal Higdon said not to worry about time is because he was assuming you’d run more marathons later. Don’t burden yourself for the first one, finish one first to get that experience and then build on that to do better next time.
Hal Higdon runs to win in the long run, not just one day. He was trying to give me that advice and I blew him off. “How can a guy who has run 50 more marathons than me know more about running marathons? Idiot.”
Hal Higdon was dreadfully right. I have now learned my lesson. I am in a much better place to run to win, building off the poor performance of the past.
Lots of people think running for reward is somehow contradictory to faith. “I serve Jesus out of love, not out of some self-centered desire to be rewarded” pious people piously pontificate.
Moses chose suffering because he “had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Moses obeyed God by faith because he would get a reward!
In fact, the whole chapter of faith (Hebrews 11) says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Reward is what drives faith. All our pompous notions about being “above that” are clouds without rain. They sound fantastic and result in nothing.
As we undermine the motivation of reward, we undermine faith itself. The same people who downgrade reward are typically the same ones who downgrade good works, discipline, self-denial, etc. They go together.
God rewards people who run to win. It’s a long race, it’s more than one day, but run that race to win it, and grab your crown!
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.