Despite the Discomfort, Keep On Running

I don’t run. I just don’t enjoy it. At all. I’m sure that’s hard to believe for a former track runner, but I loved competing. I just hated running for practice.

You’ve seen all the running decals on the back of cars: 13.1, 26.2, 5K, 10K, and so on. You may even have one on the back of your vehicle.

I saw one that said 0.0 with the words I Don’t Run written underneath, and I smiled because it totally reflected my position.

Honestly, I just don’t think I ever mastered the art of breathing while running. And without that I’m just not able to maintain my endurance. And my legs feeling like they were on fire didn’t help much.

In the same way that running makes my body feel extremely uncomfortable, many situations in life can also make our hearts and souls feel just as horrible.

The encouragement and direction that I’ve gotten from revisiting the blog these last 2 weeks have brought me great spiritual strength. I’ve been continuously reminded to focus my attention on the Author of my life, in spite of all the confusion and distractions that daily cross my path (find Week 1 blog here), in order to endure my crosses (thorns, burdens, pain), so that I could achieve my ultimate prize of God’s joy (find Week 2 blog here).

As I was pondering what scripture to study for this week, I decided to go back to Hebrews 12 and realized that I missed a vital component which was critical for me to continue to overcome the challenges I was facing.

After noticing that Verse 2 started in the middle of a sentence, I went back to read Verse 1 to understand the complete statement, which provides today’s Steady State direction. The moment I read it, I knew I wanted to write about preparing for a spiritual marathon.

Last week I referred to our lives as chapters in a book. But this week, we are going to view our lives as a race. And we aren’t just running for the love of running, there is a prize to win!

Because I wasn’t a fan of running, when I took my first job after graduating from college, I would go to a local gym to stay in shape. I steered clear of running – and instead I took step and aerobics classes.

I couldn’t run 10 minutes without stopping to walk, but I would make it through those hour-long classes with no problem. That’s pretty good endurance, right? Yes, I endured, but I didn’t make any forward progress. I was at the same place that I had been at the start of the class.

How many times do we put so much effort into doing something we deem beneficial, but in the end, it really doesn’t bring any progress into our lives at all. We are just working ourselves to say we are doing something, but 10 years later we are still in the same spot. Maybe on our jobs, or in our marriage? Or in our plans for the future?

And honestly, most of the challenges I was facing in life were repetitive, like I was on a Merry Go Round. High one moment, low the next, and continually going in circles, and fighting the same types of battles.

What do we need to do to move forward? Aren’t you ready to get off the Merry Go Round? I know I am! I thought about the behaviors new runners need to employ to train for sustaining longer distances:

Build Regular Training Habits – Are we regularly spending time with God? Reading the Bible? Attending a church consistently and building relationships? Checking in with a Christian friend for encouragement and accountability?

Be Consistent – Once we determine the habits we need to put into practice, we need to develop a routine of spending time with God and reading the Bible. This daily quality time spent with God and in His Word yields spiritual growth and close communion with Him. Are mornings or evenings better? Lunch break or after work? What daily, weekly and monthly patterns can be utilized to strengthen the Christian walk?

Increase Your Stamina – Are there groups available to join? Possibly to read a book together and discuss? Or a small group through a church where topics are discussed with like-minded individuals? Maybe an e-group on a social media platform where we can freely share encouragement and receive inspiration in return? Building relationships with a strong circle of Believers in different capacities can directly impact the ability to withstand spiritual attacks, as we know there is strength in numbers.

Learn New Techniques – There are so many resources to help us grow stronger in our spiritual walk. Conferences and retreats can transport us to different environments, where we can be exposed to different topics, practices, and points of view. There are Social Media platforms, blogs, podcasts, books, magazines – the available resources that can bring new insight and direction are truly are endless.

This past weekend I was able to take the girls to see the movie Overcomer. When I first saw the trailer about 4 months ago, I knew this story was going to speak to me, as it was about a young, African-American teenage girl, who was going to overcome some huge obstacle, by the hand of God.

The theme song, Overcomer, by Mandisa (of American Idol fame) was one I would listen to often while Kennedi was going through her healing and rehabilitation period. It truly was a life-changing movie, and without giving the story away, the coaching the main character received during her race was powerful and ties in directly with our topic.

This race we are running can be brutal, but no matter what we’re feeling, no matter how much pain our “legs” are feeling, we must hold onto the promises of God, find our 2nd wind, and not give up. When we listen to our bodies while running either physically or spiritually, they will always tell us to stop. Our physical nature will always want relief from pain and discomfort. But there is no victory in taking the easy way out and quitting the race.

I invite you to be my training partner – let’s keep moving forward with endurance, with our eyes on set on the author and finisher of our faith. With His help we can endure our cross, disregarding any shame, because there IS JOY waiting for us! Even though we can’t see it, the finish line is ahead. Keep moving forward, one step, and one breath at a time!


Are you weary in your race? Have you thought about giving something up?

Which of the above training techniques could you start today? Can you find someone to be your training partner as you decide to stay in the race? Praise God!

Feel free to share your response in the comments section…

Published by Tonya May Avent

Child of God. Wife of 20 years to basketball fanatic and coach. Mom to teenage daughters and amazing athletes. Tonya is an award-winning author whose writing has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guideposts magazine. Her first book, Using God’s Playbook for the Game of Life: 52 Scriptures Your Young Athlete Should Know Before Sending Them Off Into the World was released in October 2022.

3 thoughts on “Despite the Discomfort, Keep On Running

  1. As always thank you so much for your blog and your encouragement. I definitely have needed to hear this over and over again and really need to do better at putting some of these into practice. One of the things I struggle with in certain areas is consistency. I can start really well on something, reading bible plans, choosing gospel music over secular music when I feel led to and spending time with God daily through prayer and reading the bible. I get into a really good groove doing it and then something always comes to make me too “busy” again. I thank you for the blogs because they help me with connecting to God’s word on a more frequent basis (almost daily) but I would love to designate a prayer time, a reading time and even a reading material to finish it before moving on to another one. I am praying for focus and drive to seek God for His specific plan for my life and what I am meant to do to help my family move forward in Him as well. Sometimes I know frustration can get the best of me but I believe He still has a great plan ahead and it helps me to wait or occupy in expectation. But thank you for the challenge to build stamina and work towards the goal of consistency and spending more time with God. I know it builds strength to withstand the attacks that come and so no matter how difficult building and maintaining is the only way to survive. I am so grateful that God’s is so faithful and patient while we learn as we go. Love you!

    1. Sheera I am so proud of you! You continue to mature in so many areas of your life, and I’m blessed to be able to provide encouragement along the way. This is YOUR race, and each day just work to do better than yesterday. Remember – find the joy in your journey and experiences along the way. Celebrate your triumphs and dust yourself off if you may stumble. But just keep moving forward, no matter how small your step may be. We must keep our eyes on the prize, while knowing that it may take longer than we thought (or would like) to get there. It’s all about that endurance to finish our race. You got this! Love you too!

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