How not to run a marathon

Written by On Friday, 01 November 2013 08:59

This past weekend I got a chance to participate in a half marathon for the first time. Yikes! The important thing is that I crossed the finish line…more like crawled past the finish line and heaved a sigh of relief. I have decided that you only need to run a marathon once for you to become an expert. With the expertise that I gathered, I put down a list of my top five must do’s to make your marathon run a complete ‘success’.

Forget training

You know how they tell you that you need to flex those muscles, clear your chest and make sure you are in the best possible shape to run the marathon. Don’t bother. Just continue with life as you know it. No special exercises, no diet amendments. Just show up and run.

Run alone.

You don’t need moral support from friends or family; running alone is best way to do it. No distractions, no one to drag you behind. You don’t need them; even better than running alone is running with someone who doesn’t care much about whether you finish or not, someone who wouldn’t mind seeing you fail. That’s really great.

Sure, you can take the short cuts.

Forget following the marathon route, as soon as you can take a short cut-take it. In fact if it’s possible, start the marathon halfway. Wait at halfway point for the rest of the runners and join from there. No one will ever know of course there are always rumors of some device they use to check whether you have run the whole race, but that’s not really true. The important thing is that you cross the finish line, am I right?

You can wear whatever you want

There is no such thing as marathon gear. Heels, dresses, your Sunday best… that suit you only wear for job interviews and weddings. Anything goes, don’t sweat it. I saw a couple of ladies in dresses, they did it. So can you.

It’s all about how you start.

Make sure you spend all your energy on the first 12km of a half marathon. By that time you’ll have left a multitude of guys behind you and they will never catch up to you; it’ll be a definite win for you right?

…I have run the race; I have kept the faith…

These words by the apostle Paul in 2nd timothy have always given me the impression that the Christian walk is a race; but is it a marathon or a sprint? I figure it’s only in a marathon that you go through the ups and downs that the Christian faith can bring. When I was running I had moments of high energy, blood pumping ‘I can do this’ moments and there were times when I just felt like should stop and sit in the middle of the road. At such times I was thankful for not being alone and having someone to say ‘I can do this’ with.

There was a particular group of teenagers who were always either ahead of me or slightly behind me and towards the end they had friends waiting for them, 'wow' I thought, 'someone to cheer you on your last lap.' until i had one of them saying:

‘Come on J. give up already! Get off the race lets go home.’

Talk about moral support. That’s what you need to hear when you are tired, beat and just trying to cross the finish line. Have you had one of those in your Christian walk, people who just want you to throw in the towel and curse God like Jobs’ friends?

The other day at The Saturday PM we talked about counting the cost of following Jesus; trying to look at the end from the beginning and the time in between before deciding to plunge in. Isn’t that just like a marathon? You need to count the cost. I got a lot of heat after running the marathon. I was in aches and pains couldn’t move my legs for a while and some people couldn’t understand why I did it. To what end? To be honest the only thing that kept me sane was the fact that I saw it coming. I knew that the marathon would take a toll on me and I was psychologically prepared for it. What if I wasn’t? What about Christians who commit to the faith with the expectation of breeze and find turbulence instead? Do they see it through to the end? How about those guys who start well, morale for a thousand people and lose it somewhere along the way?

I particularly fume at believers who have no qualms about taking shortcuts while I am trying so hard to stay on the straight and narrow. I wonder do we draw the same line between black and white? Their grey areas must definitely be several shades lighter than mine. Do we not use the same ‘constitution’ to determine what’s okay and what’s not? Funny thing, we could all eventually end up at the finish line. God’s grace is really something else. Do you think it’s fair?

I am glad to say that eventually I crossed that finish line. Definitely not the cash prize winner, but a winner nonetheless. Crossing that line was the only motivation I had some times and I had to see it through. In the end I want to be able to say like Paul that I have run the race and I have finished, and finished well. The crown that awaits me at the end of it all is much much bigger than the medal I got at the end of the marathon. A reward that is bigger, a victory that is sweeter and without the aftermath of aches and pains. That really gets me going.

Have you run a marathon race before? What comparisons can you draw? What keeps you going in your walk with God? Which men of God do you want to finish like? What inspiration do you draw from them?

Latest Sermons


Do you have a question about God, Jesus, the Bible, or theology? Do you have any doubts about the Christian faith or the Bible? Do you need help understanding a Bible verse or passage? Are there any spiritual issues in your life for which you need advice or counsel?

Ask your question