I have the privilege of working with some amazing people at Provisions Group. It’s an incredible environment. My colleagues work hard, and they run hard. Literally.
One of my co-workers has completed 5 marathons. Another is a very accomplished, officially sponsored triathlete. (Chad Nikazy writes in his spare-time about “The Gentle Art of Balancing Marriage, Parenting, and Triathlon. He has over 4,600 subscribers to his blog, trifatherhood.com).
The owners of our company are excellent athletes and continue to compete in races around the area. Several of my co-workers completed a 50k trail run last year and there are a few here with Iron-Man competitions under their belts (hint: a 50k trail run is longer than a marathon). Needless to say, it’s an energetic atmosphere and you can always find someone ready to run or work out with you.
My Internal Dilemma When It Comes to Running
It’s difficult to keep up with guys who have been running for so long when I’m just getting started (In fact, I think it would be difficult to keep up with them even if I had been running for years).
So, I have a choice to make each week, and with each new invitation to join them for a run. I can either bow out, or I can man up. I can shrink back, or I can stretch myself.
I’ve always been glad that I’ve joined them – once we get back to the office. On one of my runs, as I was struggling to catch up, I identified what I am calling “5 Benefits of Running With Faster Friends.” This is what I have to remind myself of as I tie my shoelaces on the way out the door.
5 Benefits of Running with Faster Friends
1. The Challenge.
As a novice runner, it’s very challenging to hit the road with very experienced runners. The pace is much faster than if I had set out for a run on my own. I have to push myself, and it’s hard. But I know that running with faster friends has a sharpening effect on me. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). The benefits I gain from embracing the challenge are worth all the effort involved.
2. The Camaraderie
There’s nothing quite like a band of brothers attacking a challenge together. On one of my first runs with my friend, LJ, the final stretch was filled with his encouragement: “COOPERS AREN’T QUITTERS! COOPER’S AREN’T QUITTERS! COOPERS AREN’T QUITTERS!” I was breathless, but with every one of his proclamations, I rose to the challenge and finished the course. There’s a bond created from running with faster friends. When I’m faced with difficulties, I want to hear LJ’s voice in my head and keep pressing on.
3. The Refreshment
Even in the cold months, running outside through downtown Franklin has a refreshing effect on my body and, in turn, has a positive effect on my soul. I think of a very helpful quote from Charles Spurgeon:
“He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy. A day’s breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours’ ramble in the beech woods’ umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive. A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is the next best.” Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, p. 158
It’s good for the body and the soul to get outside, even if that means running with faster friends.
4. The Humbling Effect
Because I’m running with faster friends, I’m usually bringing up the rear on all our outings. That’s humbling for me! I think it’s also good for me. I’m reminded when we run that I don’t always have to be out in front, leading the pack. Instead of bemoaning my own weaknesses, I can acknowledge the strengths of others, and I can seek to learn from my faster friends. It’s the only way to grow, which leads me to my final point.
5. The Growth
Unless you are Usain Bolt, there’s always someone faster. And unless you are King Solomon, there’s always someone wiser. Proverbs 13:20 says “He who walks with the wise, grows wise.” It’s wise to walk with the wise because when you walk with the wise, you grow wise.
Maybe it accelerates our growth even more if we run with them. At least, this is what I am going to continue to tell myself the next time I tie my shoelaces and head out the door for another run with my faster friends.
What thoughts inspire you to keep running with faster friends?
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