One of my secret weapons for running long distances is that I pray and memorize scripture as I run. This past Sunday, I finished my 6th Parks Half Marathon and I found myself using scripture as a mantra to keep my cadence going. Somehow it stills the time I run and makes it go by quickly.
Praying when I run:
When I ran my 2nd marathon a few years back, I dedicated each mile to a different person and prayed the entire time. Yes, that’s 26 people and it was awesome (I did have an arm band where I wrote each name). This time I dedicated my running time to pray for others. I wasn’t too organized about it but I prayed for my dad and his healing, my mom and her strength, my sisters and each of their families, my grandma and her health and peace of mind, my aunt, my cousins, my friend whose baby was very premature and I can’t remember what else.
In races, I often find myself using Philippians 4:13 to keep me going especially up hills and especially when I just want to stop and walk. Usually I remind myself “one step at a time, one step at a time, Bel” and then I recite “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Last Sunday, I used this verse in the last mile just to keep my cadence going.
My other mantra is Psalms 150:6 which is beautiful and says “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” While I am a runner, there is nothing easy or pretty about the way I do it. And it’s no surprise to find myself gasping for breath or wishing I had more. Its when I’m purely and absolutely exhausted that I recite Psalm 150:6. The fact is that as long as I can hear my breath, I am reminded that I HAVE BREATH, no matter how short they may be. Thank God for the breath, energy and life he has given me, not to mention babysitters who can watch Maddie so that I can run. One of the reasons I love to run is because it reminds me how really blessed I am.
I played field hockey at Houghton College (shout out) and when I was asthmatic and feeling like I had nothing left during practice, I would remember Jack, this resident I used to visit at the local nursing home. Jack was bed-bound and could barely speak and so when I remembered him I was motivated to give it my all. Youth with good health is really a beautiful thing and something I try not to take for granted. Being in contact with seniors really helps reminds me of the gift of youth. So when you complain and say you hate running, try looking at the hobbling old woman who just wishes she could dance and maybe, just maybe you won’t hate running so much anymore.
Aside from the first two verses, I usually just memorize whatever I can remember. Last week I had been trying to memorize Psalm 105 and so during the race I also managed to memorize the first 4 verses (or what I could remember). Sometimes I may botch up the words, but you know…
“Give praise to the Lord, call on his name. Make known among the nations what he has done. Sing of him. Sing his praises. Tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let all the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:1-4
If you’re wondering how the race went, I was extremely pleased. Kevin ran the race too and it was his first half marathon. I was super proud of him. I have fully converted him to running! And for me, it was my first half marathon after pregnancy. I had skipped out on this race for two years, one for pregnancy and one for new baby/mommy time and so the fact that I managed to pull off an under 2:00 race was better than I expected! Andrea, my Parks buddy, also finished with a PR. Prettty awesome! Hope these running mantras help some!