Running for the Non-Runner {The Grove: Get Ready}

Years ago I made a “life list”—this was before the term “bucket list” entered our collective understanding. Run a marathon was on my life list (so was crochet an afghan, it was a pretty diverse list).

In my late 20’s I went through an early morning jogging phase, but other than that, nothing in my life pointed towards this being a goal I would successfully navigate. When I moved to Beijing, there was some race that many of my friends was signing up for. I can’t remember now if it was a 5k or a 10k on The Great Wall.

Didn’t matter. How cool would it be to say I ran a race on The Great Wall? So, I signed up and started “training.” I put that in quotation marks because I’m not sure a runner would call what I did training. Guess what I learned?

I hate running.




Want to find a way to make time stop? Start running. Want to find everything wrong with the world? Start running. Want to think evil thoughts about your friends? Start running.

Praise the merciful Lord, but I was required to attend a mandatory meeting on the Saturday of the race. Never has there been a happier meeting participant named Amy Young.

Several times Paul used the metaphor of running a race both for the spiritual life and for the work that he did. Now the fact that I hate running does not get in the way of a good metaphor—and with the Olympics around the corner, who hasn’t pictured themselves as an athlete of some kind?

Hebrews (which may or may not have been written by Paul) uses the phrase “run the race set before you.” This three-week series wants to help those new to the field do just that: run the race set before you.

Before a runner comes to the starting line, she needs to get ready for her race. It is the rare athlete who can show up to a race without any training. Here are four tips to help you get ready for your race:

  1. The beautiful, and at times frustrating, part of the Christian life is that God will prepare each one of us differently. Read this article to see the multitude of ways God can get you ready for your race. Bottom line: no “one way” exists when it comes to getting ready.
  1. Getting ready can be the most private phase of “get ready, get set, go!” Often it is just you and maybe a training partner slogging it out on long training runs. Who needed to fill out the application to your organization and answer question after question? You. Nobody else could do it for you. Who had to pack up your life, learn to become an efficient packer, and decide what to take and what to leave? You. Of course, you had friends and family who helped, no one trains on their own. But “Get ready” is not always the sexy part of ministry as you write thank-you notes, update spreadsheets, and go about all of the details of getting ready.
  1. One of the most frustrating parts of getting ready is that everyone is on a different time schedule. For some, visa and finances fall quickly into place. For others, it can take far longer than you ever imagined to “get ready.” Please remember getting ready is not a contest. The downside of the race metaphor is that something deep within me goes, “Okay, if this is a race, I’m going to win, sucka!” I don’t think that is the fruit of the Spirit coming alive in me. I need to remember that this is a solo race. I’m running in such a way I achieve a goal, not impress or beat others.
  1. Part of getting ready is really rather practical as you find out:
  • What banking is like in your host country
  • How to dress for the extreme heat or cold
  • What food options are like (true story, pre-internet my teammate and I moved to the other side of the world without one recipe. Not one. We lived on fried potatoes and apple slices until we visited a friend with a recipe book and then hand copied most of it!)
  • In short, daily realities still exist. Think through finances, eating, washing, dressing, and entertainment.

About ten years ago I took “Run a marathon” off of my life list and was rather proud of myself that I didn’t let a foolish (for me! I admire all you runners) goal hang over my head for years. Instead of feeling guilty about what I wasn’t doing, God reminded me I’m still a runner in the Greatest Race: his kingdom.

We each have a race set before us, how have you gotten ready for the race set before you? Have you signed up for this series or signed up a friend who will be moving soon?


  1. Emily Smith July 28, 2016

    Oh, Amy. This made me laugh. I love how different everyone is. Just yesterday I started a run convinced everything was wrong and the world was ending. Five miles later, everything had been put back right. I was asked recently when I best communicate with God. It is when I run. Everything else fades and I can talk to Him.
    I loved the idea of this being a solo race and not a competition. As someone who could turn just about anything into a competition, it is a really good reminder.
    One of my more recent takeaways from training and running has been the idea of rest. Not just full days of rest, but also resting during the distance running. If I run solid, I can make it about 20 minutes. If I take a short break to walk every few minutes, I can sustain a faster pace for well over two hours. I do this in running, but how often I forget in life and try to run solid. I see rest as something to slow down my preparation. Instead, it is a strategic plan to be able to continue long term.
    I figure I will keep running and continue to enjoy the running metaphors from runners and non-runners alike. Thank you!

    1. Amy Young July 30, 2016

      Emily, so fun to hear how we are each wired differently :). Now Zumba, don’t even get me started . . . that is my happy place! I realized the other day in the middle of a class how light and free I feel and how much God and I chat as I fling my arms and body hither, thither, and yon (it’s not pretty, is what I’m saying). You run and I’ll dance and God moves :)! I love it!

  2. T July 30, 2016

    Yep, I moved pre-internet (well, there was internet in the world, just not in our house!!). Best day was when my roommate and I came home with a copied down chocolate cake recipe! We’d been living on store-bought cookies and yogurts! I still use that same recipe…
    And, I esp loved your line about “want to think evil thoughts about your friends?!?” esp, those who think running is so fun and who convinced you to go! 🙂
    Reading this was just right for me, today, as I am sick, sick, sick of the heat and the dry and the dirty. Really, I have a nice clean house and a wonderful shower and all I need, but I was just done. Done, done, done. But, that race set before me includes August right here, whether I want to or not, so I might as well put on my shoes and pour some water over my head so that I’ll feel cooler while I do it. Thanks, Amy!

    1. Amy Young July 30, 2016

      Those handwritten recipes are precious, aren’t they :T :)! We had a little photo album we got and made our own recipe book. Though I don’t use it as much as I did back in the day, it has made every move with me.

      Love the idea of finding ways to run the race God has for US. The heat, I have to admit, does sound miserable. But some good shoes and cool water will help with running. So glad we can spur each other on. I’m on the side lines cheering you with “You go girl! You’ve got this!!!” 🙂

  3. Krista B July 30, 2016

    Just found out after a knee surgery that long-distance running will NOT be a wise option for me. Not that I ever ran much (unless I was chasing a soccer ball or a Frisbee, that is!) I figure I now have a rock-solid excuse for not feeling lazy when my friends post pictures of their 5Ks, 10Ks, and marathons. But like other non-runners, I need to avoid writing off the running metaphors of the Scriptures and the call to focus and perseverance. Thanks for the reminder!

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