Running and the Christian Calf Muscles

Ok, seriously, I have great calves. It’s true. Throughout my life I’ve received very few compliments about my physical appearance outside of my calves. They’re fantastic. Look, it’s not me saying this I’m just passing along popular opinion. People ogle my calves. It’s embarrassing.

So one would assume that I’d be a pretty strong runner. I mean, a lot of the work of picking up and putting down feet in rapid succession is done by the calves. If you assmed that I did this well, you’d be mistaken. I’m not a bad runner, I just don’t have a great deal of stamina. I played soccer as a youth and again as a (trying to hard) adult and I was great with short bursts of speed. I could keep up with the fastest opponent.

The problem came around the middle of the second half of games. I was gassed. Desperate for a jug of water and a sofa. Maybe some ice cream.

But recently, I’ve become a statistic. I’m one of these people that watches the calendar turn over another year and decides that lethargy is fun but deadly. I’m on a health kick for Q1 2012 along with millions of others. I plan to be another statistic in that I don’t plan on letting this slide.

I’m a runner now. No, really. I’m running almost every day. No, I’m not training for a 5k (silly) or marathon (outright lunacy), I’m just trying to get good at running 3 to 5 miles without kidney failure. Which brought me to write this post tonight.

I just completed run #2 of the week and I began thinking about how similar running is to being a Christian. My calves give every indication that I’m a gifted runner in the same way that my emphasis on my spirituality gives some the impression that I’ve become skilled as a follower of Christ. This is not the case. I’m really bad at it actually.

In fact, it’s almost the opposite. By placing an emphasis on spirituality and making it a focus of your life, you dig into the Bible and the self-discovery that it brings actually makes you realize how tough that path is. Much like not really understanding how out-of-shape you are until you hit that first mile after years of NOT running. Your legs initiate a full-scale coup d’etat and you become awash in pain and self-doubt. Very much like facing your troubles with a life in Christ.

He does that to you to make you better. To make things even more interesting… It’s awesome.

I ran 2 miles yesterday and limped home; sweaty and gasping. I got home tonight and couldn’t wait to put on my shoes and hit the road. I didn’t cover as much ground tonight, but I also didn’t pant and wheeze my way around the neighborhood either. It was easier than yesterday and it will be easier tomorrow night.

Just like believing. Faith takes practice. At first it’s so daunting and intimidating that it’s much easier to just stay at home. Once you take that first step, the pain is intense and there are 1,000 reasons to quit. A few trips on the road later, you’re hooked. The pain is still there, but with less intensity. There are so many similarities to Christianity with running. There must be tons of books out there with this corollary.

I’d like to think that as I’m becoming a better runner, I’m becoming a better Christian. Better with faith, that is. But I’m really not. I trust God and accept his verdicts, so to speak, but I’m not so good with his process and understanding where to allow Him to take over in my life. I’m not so great at getting out of the way. Here’s the final little metaphor with running that will tell you why I’m bad at faith.

Yesterday I ran 2 miles in 16 minutes. That’s an 8 minute mile which, for a guy just starting out trying to run is not too shabby. It’s too fast though. I was exhausted. I should’ve paced myself with 10 minute miles and run 4 miles instead. See? That’s me in a nutshell. Impatient and speeding through life.

Man, what a lesson.