I've alluded in past posts to this current season being one of transition. I hope you'll excuse (or at least be complicit with) my dramatization of what, from the outside looking in, must seem fairly trivial alterations, but I'm a sucker for routine so anything that rocks the boat usually propels me into a deeper-than-usual contemplative mood. Change has always been hard for me, even when the changes in question are categorically positive; I was the kid in elementary school who still wore his uniform on "casual" days. I thrive with familiarity, predictability and repetition, probably integral reasons why this sport was such a natural fit for me from the onset. Nevertheless, I'm coming to recognize that no routine--no matter how comfortable--is perfect or unbounded in its utility. There is a season for everything and oftentimes the only way to improve is to shake things up. This is where I find myself right now.
First, my training. For years, varsity athletics was a beautiful thing. The moniker of Student-Athlete (read: Athlete-Student 😤) provided perfect justification for excusing myself from the little things that separate good from great: no time to stretch? Student-Athlete. Procrastinate studying to stretch? Athlete-Student etc. By virtue of being two things of at least formally equal weighting, it was easy to put off the one on the pretences of the other. Furthermore, the relative success I had in doing so seemed confirmation that I could be even better at either thing if and when the other was removed. Not to say that I now have no life outside the silo of being an athlete (I do! Trust me!), I am definitely into a stage where that identity is at the forefront of my public persona and central to much of my daily decision making. I have big goals in my sport and, by God's grace, tremendous resources and opportunities available to help me work towards them. Recognizing that, and the efforts made by so many to get me to where I am now, I know the small things are what need to be done to get me where I want to go and those changes are something I talk about here.
While I've once again settled into a workable and enjoyable training rhythm augmented by the little tasks that add up, those little tasks coupled with daily training and my work commitments (part-time) still leave me with an amount of free-time to which I'm not yet accustomed. Historically, my propensity is towards over-committing to a variety of obligations and then waiting for the inevitable implosion of one or all to force me into backing off and readjusting. I like to be where the action is and have trouble saying no to opportunities that will get me there, even when they are of a type that could prove detrimental to my stated priorities. While this has served me well in many ways and I never want to pigeon-hole myself as a unidimensional athlete-robot, I also know being great at a few things means sacrificing the opportunity to be okay at many things.
Thus, I'm learning to embrace the luxury of down time, viewing it less as idly wasted minutes and more as a necessary component of the regimen I need to keep in order to be my best. In this pursuit, I've found a sense of peace turning to God's word. I truly believe that God's plan for my life involves my career as an athlete and the community I am part of as a result. I've been gifted with the opportunity to pursue running at a high level and trust that God will use me through that to accomplish more than merely my own personal ambitions. I take comfort in the old-testament book of Ecclesiastes, which states "there is time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun." Right now, the time for me is one for stewarding the gift of running I've been given with wisdom and intentionality, and that means recognizing when rest is necessary. While that may mean withholding other facets of life, I know that the LORD will provide opportunities for those things in their due season. For now, I'm striving to make the most of the gifts I'm currently receiving, knowing God deserves nothing less than my utmost for His highest.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
John Eamon Gay